Lei Jiang is a knitted textile designer with a background in textile design based in Ningbo. Lei has an interest in the unusual – odd objects, strange patterns and funny stories. In her work, you can see a pumpkin with three legs or a cucumber with one hand. In the food kingdom she created, food is a metaphor for humans, with desires and emotions. She has a good sense of humour; employing this alongside her unique visual language to highlight social and cultural concerns.
RENAME// Hi, I am an Ugllei
Have you been treated unfairly due to your imperfections? Your imperfect appearance, your imperfect figure, your imperfect gender, your imperfect age, or any other subjective imperfection?
Then welcome to “Hi, I am an Ugllei”. Ugllei is a new name of ugly food and Lei (my name, in case you forgot). Just like human beings, the vegetable society obeys the same rules and most of the ugly produce ends up unwanted.
To challenge the perfect standard of aesthetics, I re-evaluated the imperfections in my project. I brought the ugly food back to life as anthropomorphic cartoon characters renamed “Uglleis”. I combined knitting samples and other mixed media techniques to make the physical sculptures, also adding my personal experiences to complete the characters’ stories, presenting them as animations.
Ugllei is to celebrate the ugliness of life, to brace courage for accepting a new beauty. Thank you for joining my journey.
My work is inspired by the wasted "ugly" food. These food are generally natural produce. Some of them have been left, expired, rotted, moldy, discarded or wasted because of their irregular shapes, unusual colours, or special sizes, which do not meet the standards of consumers and markets.
Can I change people's aesthetic on ugly food by my work?
I started by doing research in some markets and supermarkets, taking pictures of some ugly vegetables or fruits that had been left on the stall. I took them as inspirations, using knitting and crocheting as technical methods to produce my own soft sculptures.
Medium:hand knitting yarn, machine knitted sample
Size:23cm*11cm*5cm, 20cm*8cm*4cm, 22cm*10cm*7cm, 33cm*10cm*5cm
The more I researched ugly food, the more I realised that it had something in common with me. When I was growing up, I was treated unfairly for some objective reasons, such as appearance, figure, gender, age...
After finding the commons between me and the ugly food, I decided to find a way to combine my story and the ugly food. Renaming my work "Ugllei" can be a start. Sometimes I was not the one who dare to speak up in public, so a virtual character could help me a lot. To make my work look more lively, I added some stories into the Ugllei's life presenting as animations.
I believe that there are a group of people in the world who have experience some unspeakable pain. We should not let these real ugliness keep hurting us, so I think people like us need to find an emotional outlet, maybe an Ugllei.
For the final work, I created some virtual characters based on the ugly food. I combined knitting samples and other techniques to make the physical character sculptures. I also made the digital 3d modelling objects to let the audience to have a comprehensive perspective understanding of my Ugllei characters.