由上年年中開始，Cicy開展了「升級再造香港」（Upcycling Hong Kong）的研究項目，探討首飾設計、升級再造和香港的關係。「今年舉辦的《ReSource/ ReSearch》和《RePlace/ RePlay》展覽分別展出研究的成果和最後的創作成品。除了實體展覽，我們亦和Things That Talk等網上平台合作，讓大眾更了解展品的背後故事，如物質文化和藝術歷史等。」Cicy說，以往從沒思考過「香港製造」，她以雙手去創作一些東西，它們本來就是在香港製造。「就如呼吸一樣，不用去強調啊。也許近年的環境轉變，讓我們重新注視本土工藝和創作，所以才會想特別地去強調吧。」她相信每件物品都有一個適合它存在的地方，若認為它沒用，是因為錯配了位置。「Upcycling是你需要重新看多它一眼，把它放在適合的地方，它便有用。」Cicy說，她在別人眼中是喜愛「執垃圾」的人，朋友會給她很多「沒用」的東西，如刻有花紋的玻璃、破爛了的金屬和漆碗等，她習慣把它們先切割，並磨成一塊塊手心大小的碎件，創作時便可以隨意地拿來用。
The increasing popularity of handmade craft markets and fairs is presumably a result of people’s frustration with the mass production and mundanity of everyday life. Handmade products are unique and bespoke. They are a display of craftsmanship and emotions and lead us to reflect on the true value of goods. Local artist, Cicy Ching is fond of crafting small items — those that carry a story, emotions, and warmth. Earlier this year, she gathered some of her previous work and held an exhibition titled, Unpacking: mashups, practices, collection, at the Contemporary Crafts Centre in Sheung Wan. The commemorative exhibition is a reflection of Cicy’s daily life, thoughts, and emotions, which, at the same time, encourages the viewers to take part in this journey of self-reflection.
Cicy recalled that she was around ten when she first made an actual effort in handcrafting: a birthday present for her mother. “My mother was a tailor. We didn’t have any furniture at home when I was young. What we had were two large work tables surrounded by more than a dozen sewing machines. There were always ladies coming to our home for lessons. When they talked about tailoring and fabrics, I’d hide underneath the work table to observe them while making new clothes for my paper dolls. During the Chinese New Year, my mother would tailor-make new clothes for me. So for her birthday, I imitated her style and tried to make clothes for her as a gift.” Cicy said she has long forgotten what that dress looked like. What she does remember is the disapproving face of her mother. “She said that it was a waste of time and that I should have spent my time studying instead. It made me sad for years! But then later on I realized it might be that she disapproves of her own life, as in, she worked hard as a tailor but wasn’t gaining the much-deserved recognition from society. She didn’t want me to follow in her footsteps.”
The birthday gift incident was a lesson for Cicy to understand that beauty is subjected to the viewer’s emotions and imagination. Nevertheless, she continued to embark on her creative journey.
People often called Cicy a “jewelry designer”. But if you look at her work carefully, you’ll realize her creations are much more than just jewelry design. “Maybe it’s because I teach jewelry at university, or that I often ‘speak’ for the jewelry, people usually think that I only do jewelry design. If I really have to define my work, I’d say it’s contemporary jewelry. I explore the multiple possibilities of jewelry and create small sculptures. I like small objects. If this object has a strong relationship with the body, I’d consider it a piece of jewelry. To me, creating small objects is like writing a diary. It is a kind of recording. A recording of emotions via an object.”
Jewelry has been given the meaning of desire, love, and preciousness etc. Yet Cicy always has doubts over these traditional social values. “When a woman gets married, the more goldwares she receives means the happier and more blessed she is. Jewelry is a gift, and the more valuable the better. There is a legendary diamond advertisement in Hong Kong that says, ‘A diamond is forever.’ Is it really the case that possessing a diamond means you can have eternal love? These values are worth discussing.” Cicy once used some really fragile materials to make jewelry, so fragile that they can only be viewed. “I will be sad if jewelry ends up as a pure commodity. Nothing is eternal. Material value is short-lived.” Therefore, jewelry becomes a form of expression because it is so closely connected with the body. When you see something that is different from your usual perspective, the contradiction will inspire you to think and reflect.”
Since mid-2020, Cicy has been working on a research project called “Upcycling Hong Kong” that aims to explore the relationship between jewelry design, upcycling, and Hong Kong.
“Theexhibitions, ReSource/ ReSearch and RePlace/ RePlay, that were held this year showcase our research output as well as the resulting creations. In addition to physical exhibitions, we also cooperate with online platforms such as Things That Talk to offer extra channels for the general public to learn more about the exhibits, including the stories, culture, and art history behind them.” Cicy said that she had never thought much about the notion of “Made in Hong Kong”. She creates with her hands and that makes her work essentially made in Hong Kong. “It’s like breathing. You don’t have to stress about it. Perhaps the changes in recent years have drawn our attention to local crafts and creations again and that’s probably why we stress on the subject that much.” She believes that every item has a place that is meant for it. If you think something is useless, it’s because the item is misplaced. “Upcycling is about taking another look at the item and putting it in the right place to make it useful.” Cicy said that she is known as a “trash collector”. Her friends would give her lots of things that are no longer wanted, such as patterned glass, torn metalware, and lacquer bowls. She usually cuts them up and sand their edges. These small bits and pieces that have the size of her palm are handy when she creates.
In Unpacking: mashups, practices, collection, there is a series titled Mother and Child. It is a collection of toys she made for her own child. Simple and ordinary small items that they used to play with. They are the memento of Cicy’s time together with her child. Cicy said that her child woke her up like a breeze and it took her back to her childhood to rediscover the small things that she once neglected. Speaking of her favorite piece of jewelry, Cicy said that it was a necklace made by her son with drinking straws when he was still in kindergarten.
“He was only 3 years old at the time. The teacher taught them how to make a necklace using string, cut-up straws, and beads. It was meant to be a Mother’s Day gift. The teacher even taught them how to make the necklace look symmetrical. On the way to pick up my son, I saw other mothers wearing those necklaces, and I thought to myself, how stupid is that! (laughs) But when I saw my son’s necklace that was so out of shape with beads randomly placed here and there, I screamed in my heart, ‘My boy! You are so cool!’ This necklace is now safely kept in my jewelry box, and I only wear it on special occasions. I think what makes a piece of jewelry valuable is love and affection.”
Cicy said that her son is going to secondary school this year and her family has decided to move to Canada during the summer. “I will probably continue to craft when I am in Canada. Bespoke creation is always needed.”