⟨ Art ⟩

The traces of hand

Niko Leung

Words / Elva Pang
Translation / Iris Heung

認識 Niko(梁康勤)是因為看過她在台北朋丁展出的玻璃器物和瓷器,當中與台灣春池玻璃合作、利用回收玻璃製作的器皿令人印象深刻。像窩夫般的碟子,近看時質地透亮,遠看時與光影互動,玻璃的穿透性呈現了食物很純粹的狀態。這碟子是用壓模的方法製成,與她之前用陶泥製作的碟子款式是一樣的,表面的凹凸紋理是來自她烤多士的經驗。「把烤好的多士放在這碟子上,多士便不會因為接觸到碟子上的濕氣而軟化和影響口感了。」好的設計能解決問題,也能創造出新的想法,Niko說:「春池玻璃是靠拾玻璃起家的,第二代的接班人很年輕,思想也很開放,願意和設計師合作,探索新的可能。我拿做陶瓷的石工模來,工匠很樂意和我一起研究和反覆嘗試。他們大概是沒有財政壓力才有這樣的閒情吧!」她笑著續說,「我在內地學習陶藝時,認識了一些藝術家,他們一年花四千元便可以在農村租一個很大的空間,可以靜待思考想做些甚麼、無聊時發夢;香港的藝術家往往要花很多時間來賺錢交租,所以他們沒有多餘的時間發夢。忙碌和充滿壓力的生活是無法讓新的想法誕生啊。」為何生活總是一成不變、白忙一場?大概是我們無法空閒下來,觀察日常,錯過了許多想像。「也因為生活太豐盛,對創作的意欲自然減少了。」

I first got to know Niko through her glassware and ceramic in an exhibition in the Pong Ding Gallery in Taipei. I was most impressed by the collaborative work she made with Taiwan Spring Pool Glass that is produced with recycled glass. The waffle pattern plate looks glossy at a close view when seeing from a distance, you can see light reflecting on its surface; such a texture of glass can present the food at its most authentic state. The plate is made using the compression molding technique and features exactly the same pattern as the ceramic ones she made before. The ribbed surface was inspired by her experience when eating toasts, “Placing a slice of hot toast on this plate, the ridges allow moisture to escape so that the toast won’t get soggy.” Good design can solve problems, as well as initiate new ideas, Niko says, “Spring Pool Glass started their business with picking up disposed glass material. The second generation of the company is very young and open-minded, they are willing to collaborate with designers to explore any new possibilities. When I brought to them the mold I use for making ceramics, their artisans were very happy to try it out with me. They’re so relaxed, probably due to the reason that they don’t have much financial pressure!” She laughs and continues saying, “I met some artists when learning pottery in mainland China. They can rent a very big space in a rural area at the cost of four thousand Renminbi a year. This gives them a quiet space to think about what they would like to do, or simply daydream when they have nothing to do. Hong Kong artists need to spend a great amount of money on rent, so they don’t have any extra room to dream. It is so difficult to spark new ideas when someone is too busy or too stressed.” Why is life so repetitive and busy all the time? If we don’t have free time to observe our surroundings, then how can we be creative? “Living an abundant life makes people less inclined to be creative.”

看過朋丁的展覽後,以為Niko是一位陶藝家,急於為她貼上標籤,後來才知道她曾在建築公司工作,也在兆基創意書院任教藝術。「很多人把我定位為陶藝家,事實上,我也很難把自己固定在某個位置。」傾談之下才發現她是個充滿趣味的人,大概是與她對於「不確定、協作和可能性」感到著迷有關吧。「我對探索不同質地、形狀和手感的物料很感興趣,我會想它們還有什麼可能性?我相信親手製作的經驗,也許因為在荷蘭唸設計哪幾年,習慣在工作室埋頭苦幹地創作,用雙手去操作機器和做東西吧。我也是這樣鼓勵學生嘗試拿起電鋸鋸木,爬上十尺長的長梯工作,只有親身感受才能對物料和創作過程有深刻的認識。」Niko說她近來接了一項為老人院設計一道牆的工作,概念是一道以天然物料製作、猶如拼圖般的裝飾牆,裡面有些手般大小的玩具,可以拿起來玩,鍛練雙手的靈活度,同時也是視覺的練習。「找我工作的人,大概是喜歡我的作品裡充滿了手的痕跡吧。」有說靠雙手做事的人都是實幹的人,而手心的溫度能使一道灰白的牆變得不再冰冷和孤單。

In the beginning, I thought Niko was a potter. It was only until later did I realize she once worked in a construction company; she is also an art teacher at the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. “Many people see me as a potter, but I found it difficult to bind myself to a single role.” Niko is an interesting person, she is always intrigued by uncertainties, collaborations, and possibilities, “I enjoy exploring materials of different shapes and textures, this makes me wonder what kind of possibilities do they have? I have a strong preference for handmade things. Perhaps it is due to my experience when studying design in the Netherlands, where I spent a lot of time making various objects using the machines in my studio. I also encourage my students to use a chainsaw to cut woodblocks, or to climb up the 10-feet tall ladder; I believe hands-on experience is the only way for us to get to understand the material and process thoroughly.” Niko said, she recently got a new project to design a wall in a nursing home. The idea is to build a jigsaw-like decorative wall entirely made of natural materials, where palm-sized toys will be stored inside. When taking out the toys from the wall compartment, the elderlies can train both their hands and their eyes. “I guess people come to me for their new projects because they like the handmade vibe of my work.” Niko is a practical person who enjoys working with her own hands. The temperature of her palms can bring warmth to the once cold and lonely white wall in the nursing home.

「眾多的物料中,我最喜歡的還是陶土,它不但是最原始的物料,我們立足之下的都是泥土。今年六月,我去了浙江省的劍山村學習泥土建築,與同學們從翻土開始,花了五天起了一道牆,也認識了泥土的個性,如泥土被燒前後的形態,建造萬里長城的泥土就是沒有燒的。」Niko說這次經驗讓她萌生起親手建造自己房子的想法,「農村裡的土房子建築成本低,沒有什麼裝飾可言,卻充滿了魅力。可是內地農村的急速發展,被視為窮人住所的土房子現在已愈來愈少了。」生活在為買房子而奔波勞碌的城市,誰會想過靠雙手一磚一瓦地建造自己的房子呢?從前被視為理所當然的事,現在成為了一個遙不可及的夢想。「如果我能夠建造自己的房子,最重要的是開一扇讓人知道晝夜和四季的窗。日出時陽光會灑到房子裡,聽到蟬叫便知道夏天來了;天氣很熱時不開冷氣,任由身體流著汗。能夠與大自然連結的就是最好的房子。」

“Clay is my favorite material. It is a very primitive material that forms the ground on which we set foot. This June, I went to Jianshancun in Zhejiang, China, to learn to construct a building with clay. Starting with plowing, me and my classmates spent five days to build a wall. We got to know various characteristics of soil, for instance, the form of the soil before firing. The soil used to build the Great Wall is those that didn’t go through the firing process,” Niko says she began to have an idea to build her own house after this trip, “Cob houses in rural areas are cheap to build. They are so charismatic even without any decorative details. Along with the rapid developments in rural areas, cob houses, which are seen as housing for the poor, are getting less and less popular.” Living in a city where everyone lives an exhausting life chasing the dream of buying a flat, who would have thought of building their own home with their bare hands? Things that were seen as a norm in the old days now become almost an unachievable dream. “If I were to build my own cob house, the most important feature is to have a window that lets me see the changes from dusk till dawn and the changes in four seasons. The day breaks, rays of sunlight can brighten up the room through the window. Through the windows, I can hear the sound of cicadas vibrating their wings, then I know summer has come. Even during the hottest summer days, I wouldn’t switch on the A/C but simply let myself sweat. To me, the best house is the house that can be connected to nature.”