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Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Meiling Ma

Meiling Ma is a maker and interdisciplinary artistPrior to pursuing an MA in Jewellery  and Metal at the Royal College of Art, she obtained BFA in Jewellery and Metal Arts with  honors with a minor in Printmaking from The University of Iowa, IA, United States.  

Meiling Ma has exhibited throughout China and internationally with exhibitions at Shanghai World Handicraft Industry Exposition Park, Shanghai, China (2021); West Bund, Shanghai, China (2020); Sunny Art Center, London (2020); Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (2019); Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Dalian, China (2018); University of Dhaka Art Museum, Bangladesh (2018); The University of Iowa Art Gallery, Iowa City, IA, USA (2015); Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference, Boston, USA (2015).

Meiling was awarded Excellence in China Arts and Crafts Juried Competition (2019). She was also selected for the Fashion Crossover London Graduate Talent Program (2020).

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Material research has been one of the most important aspect of Meiling’s practice: by learning  the material language and exploring various materials she pays attention to materials that have an influence on her cultural identity. Through learning traditional Chinese craft techniques, she disassembles traditional culture and reconstructs it to form her concept in order to open up the dialogue between present and past. Her practice varies between jewellery, ceramics, objects, performance, image-making and other mediums. Her work always has an interactive aspect, through which  she intends to open up space for audiences to finish the narrative. She wants the audience  to read her work as visual poems. Her recent practice is a reflection upon the pandemic, and the meaning of art-making in this very particular period. 


The work Bitesize can be seen as a reflection on the pandemic situation; Meiling looks closely at everyday utensils in a Chinese household, focusing on the most commonly used blue-and-white ceramic rice bowl. ‘Rice bowl’ in Chinese is Fanwan, which can be interpreted in two ways: the first as the container for the rice, second as the jobs that provide people with a living: if someone loses their job, they will say ‘I lost my rice bowl’.  Meiling sees this very common blue-and-white ceramic rice bowl as a visualisation/materialisation of her own cultural identity.  In the rice bowl series, she intends to respond to the pandemic which raised questions about the environmental problems we are facing as well. At present, our focus in contemporary society is on economic growth, and we take what nature offers us for granted: we have lost the appreciation our ancestors had for the planet as an entity. We live under the illusion that we are wealthy, as we have all manner of resources available to us. Yet, we are truly in poverty because if we do not change our mindset as human beings, the problems in the environment will never truly be solved. People will always be creating fresh problems and trying to address them later. Our greed is in the end what really hurts us. In this work, the rice bowl is gradually bitten away, leaving the bowl without the capacity to contain the rice. Although we should be eating the rice, instead we are eating the bowl away, just like we are damaging the very thing that we need to preserve to sustain our lives. As Jack Ma, a Chinese business magnate, investor, and philanthropist put it: ‘The pandemic has made it clear that mankind cannot live without earth, the earth can live without mankind’. 


Medium:

Porcelain

Size:

Various Size

Object A is a performance work inspired by Lacan’s Theory of Desire: according to  Lacan, desire can never be fulfilled – sociologically you can get what you need,  psychoanalytically you cannot get what you desire. The phallus as the master signifier  indicates the enjoyment given up as a subject with symbolic identity, our searching for  the phallus will fail due to the fact that the phallus is an imaginary object. We attempt to seek the object to fill phallus-shaped hole, it is a perpetual cycle of pleasure and suffering due to  the fear of our mother abandoning us that is rooted in our unconscious after we are born.  Meiling says that when she was a baby, her mother would chew the food in her mouth and then feed her: the spoon with a mouth represents an imaginary object, performing the primary desire to be fed that is psychologically rooted in us.

Medium:

Porcelain, Ink

Size:

15x15x8cm, 20x6x0.6cm
Another Beginning Installation — Medium: Glass Tank, Unfired Red Clay Size: 135x80x40cm

Meiling’s video work Another Beginning is a site-specific project in which she records the process of her clay figure melting in a stream in Jingde Zhen, Jiangxi Province, China. In this work, she uses her clay body as the subject to communicate with audiences and they can experience the work in a meditative state. She wants to raise the question of our place in the world: the temporal nature of human flesh. The work is about her body and  materials that are essential to human existence. 


Another Beginning  

by Meiling Ma

Fish jump out of the sea, 

sprinkle sliver grains on the water. 

Wind takes a nap, 

sending songs to search for the next gate. 


A girl with silver hair opens a wooden door. 

The oil lamp fire is dancing, in the end of the darkness. 

Fire kissing the water drops in the air,  

She hears someone says “I am fine” in the far distance. 


She walks towards the lamp fire,  

she could not reach it, 

she wants to grasp it, 

It slips away from her fingers. 

She shouted out,  

but there is no sound. 


She closes her eyes, 

And sank to the bottom of the ocean, 

Water melts her into thousands of grains of sand,  

You will find her in  

A drop of the rain, 

A song of a robin,  

A piece of cloud…  


Medium:

Unfired Red Clay

Size:

120x70x12cm