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Ceramics & Glass (MA)

Monica Tong

Born in Nanjing, raised in Shenzhen and Auckland, Monica spent 8 years in corporate finance across Australasia before she took a detour to art and design. At Pasadena City College, she studied Studio Arts and Interior Design and practised as a multi-media artist in Los Angeles prior to her study at The Royal College of Art.

Her creative process has always been influenced by different cultures, local environments and ways of living. Her works have been exhibited and collected in the US, New Zealand, China and the UK. By bridging the East and the West in her research, artistic and personal journey, she invites viewers to interact with her work closely and find resonance in their unique ways.

Monica welcomes conversations for social engagement, art-for-dementia, collaboration, commission, residency, locally and internationally.

My practice investigates the poetic intervention of subtle human senses and emotions through objects made in porcelain and glass. We connect with the world and the universe through our senses, in order to understand our being in nature and our experience in time. I have found porcelain and glass to be the best media in translating this experience into visual poetry due to their purity and translucency.

I often draw utopias out of residues, creating works that blur the boundary between the positive and the negative of an object by overturning the lost and the remaining. My work embraces ways of seeing, feeling, and making in this particular time of a global pandemic, by triggering subtle sensory stimulations that lead the viewer through to the subliminal in a transcendental freefall.

lost paradise I — 23x16x15cm
lost paradise I (detail) — 23x16x15cm
lost paradise II — 26x13x12cm
lost paradise II (detail) — 26x13x12cm
lost paradise III — 26x14x12cm
lost paradise III (detail) — 26x14x12cm

These were the series of work I made after the year-long lockdown in London. I revisited my library of collection from my travels and residues from my first year of making at the RCA prior to the pandemic. Putting these fragments from my past into new compositions is likened to making a collage out of a lost and found diary. Each bit comes with a story; together they form a mysterious inner landscape of water droplets sitting in the form of blown glass.

As Ursula Le Guin said in The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, "before the tool that forces energy outward, we made the tool that brings energy home...our ancestors’ greatest invention was the container: the basket of wild oats, the medicine bundle, the net made of your own hair, the home, the shrine, the place that contains whatever is sacred. The recipient, the holder, the story. The bag of stars."




Medium:

glass, porcelain, sand, clear silicone

Size:

vary
inner landscapes of ‘lost paradise series’ — ceramic
no one is an island — poem

Having moved between four continents and now working through such unprecedented times, intimate encounters with clay provide me comfort and a sense of groundedness. These islands are reflections of my inner emotional state and my adventures, past and future.

Size:

vary
harmony I (sound of porcelain) — 27x9x5cm
harmony II (sound of porcelain) — 17x6x40cm
harmony II (sound of porcelain) - detail — porcelain beads

Shards and residues are carefully placed into the walls of the porcelain sound tubes to create an intricate rhythm when porcelain beads bounce, collide, and move through the space. The sound you are hearing, the objects you are looking at, the thoughts and reflection brought upon the viewer - all become part of the work. Every wanderer may find oneself lost in the contemplation of ephemeral beauty.

Medium:

porcelain, walnut wood

Size:

vary
fluidity in stillness — porcelain, Ø 18x2cm each
detail

This body of work acts as a meditative ritual in which it activates a space and prompts the observation of the frequency of the subtleties in our surroundings: the rhythm of breath, the reflection of water, the mellifluous movement of porcelain beads bouncing and pausing. It helps us appreciate the act of spending time, being in the moment, and finding connections between our inner and outer worlds.


Medium:

porcelain

Size:

vary
aurora (film) — 2:38 min

Influenced by the philosophy of Taoism, I create work that is half fulfilled with my own intimacy with clay and letting the other half fulfilled by the viewer, the wind, the smell, the light, the sound, and every small particle in the surrounding space.

Through the sensual and experiential interactions, one may find the balance between states of inter-being, feel vitality in ephemerality, and become one with the surrounding nature.

Medium:

short film, porcelain, water, light
portfolio of practice — this shows the research, concept and journey behind my work.
school of arts and humanities, dissertation, 2020 — this piece of writing is a collection of the fragments from my experience and understanding as an early career artist, in order to find a poetic way of living in the mundane and the silver-lining to keep going and becoming oneself.

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi Scholarship

Bursary recipient 2020

The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers

Tin Prize winner 2021