Untrammelled Craftsmanship

As ‘A Thousand-year Pottery City’, Shiwan is known for its distinctive pottery. The earliest earthenware production in Shiwan could be traced to Tang dynasty. Compared to exquisite and gaudy pottery in Northern China, Shiwan Pottery is rich in its archaic rusticity. The first feature of Shiwan Pottery is its vivid and lifelike figures. The human and animal figurines skillfully shaped by Shiwan potters, named as ‘Shiwan Figurines’, are interesting and lively. S.H. Ho College organized an exhibition ‘Untrammelled Craftsmanship—Huo Guanzhao’s Pottery Exhibition’ from 20 January to 28 February 2016. The exhibitor Mr. Huo Guanzhao is a renowned contemporary potter, whose clans have been residing in Shiwan.

As an art lover, Mr. Huo always practiced drawing skills in his childhood, and familiarized himself with picture albums of painters Qi Baishi and Li Keran. Mr. Huo simply immerses himself in pottery without paying attention to fame. He is good at capturing inspiration, which become energy to sublimate his pottery works. His artworks are mainly abstract, plain, free-styled, and skilled in colour arrangement of glazes. Mr. Huo embraces the authenticity of Shiwan figurines, and strives to infiltrate the elements of free-styled Chinese painting into his pottery works. He said, ‘Artists must embody their emotions and personal understanding of the world into their artworks. “Art” precedes “techniques”, as the former is self-cultivation and the latter is simply skills. If the latter prevails, the artworks will lose their meaning of existence.’

The opening ceremony of the pottery exhibition was held on 20 January. Honourable guests officiating the opening ceremony were the potter Mr. Huo Guanzhao; Ms. Peng Jie, the Director-General of the Department of Publicity, Culture and Sports Affairs of LOCPG; Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President, CUHK; Prof. Samuel Sun, Master, S.H. Ho College; Prof. Josh Yiu, Acting Director, Art Museum, CUHK; and Miss Angela Ng, President of the Student Union Executive Council, S.H. Ho College, CUHK; and Miss Sharon Yu, Representative of the Student Union, S.H. Ho College. Mr. Zhang Mengyou, Dean of Foshan Liang’s Garden Arts Academy, has known Mr. Huo for thirty years. He delivered a speech at the ceremony, during which he introduced the origin of Shiwan figurines, art development of Mr. Huo and his style. ‘Mr. Huo’s creation process is free-styled. As Mr. Huo’s artworks are all individually crafted and original, it is not easy to collect his artworks. It’s all about timing and serendipity,’ said Mr. Zhang.

Master Sun remarked, ‘S.H. Ho College endeavours to foster students’ innovative spirit, which is in line with the College’s education philosophy. It is hoped that the exhibition can subtly nurture and inspire the students of our College and CUHK to pursue creativity and innovation.’ The College also organized a pottery workshop to create a face-to-face interaction between Mr. Huo and its students, during which students’ imagination would be unleashed by the clay art creation process. When the student potters dedicated in art creation, the leisurely state of mind was reflected on their artworks. The leisurely enjoyment was vividly portrayed in their works, which were as carefree as floating clouds.