Wong Ping Kwong is one of the founders of the Contemporary Ceramic Society HK and an oversea member of the society now. He was very active in art field in Hong Kong until he emigrated to Richmond, British Columbia, Canada in 1994 and resigned his 22 years art teaching at St Stephen College in Stanley.
When he settled in Richmond, he set up his home base pottery studio and started teaching pottery at home. Later he also taught night school pottery class at Vancouver School Board, and Richmond Potters Club. Five days teaching in a week doesn't hold back his art making. He keeps exhibiting his functional ware and sculpture.
He has been active giving demonstrations and workshops to various potters' clubs and schools in Greater Vancouver Districts. He was a member of the Richmond Public Art Program Steering Committee from 1996 to 97. Over the years he was invited to be one of the jury members for several public art projects by the City of Richmond.
Craft people and artist were generally respected in Canada, Wong told me. They have support from the government and chances to show and sell their work. As functional ware is easier to sell, he usually makes a series of work in different design. Wong estimated that he has made about 300 teapots. A wide diversity of form they are such as donut, pufferfish, bamboo, bird and geometric forms. Donut teapot is his icon. These teapots are in proportion and precisely balance with intricate design of lines or organic elements. Each teapot is aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Wong loves nature especially water birds in Canada. These migrating birds are somehow a reflection of his life, emigrated from China to Hong Kong in 1956 when he was young and then to Canada in his fifty. He did a lot of research and observation on these water birds, their form, appearance, movement and characters. These elegant water birds were frequently modeled in his sculpture. In his recent installation “I’m your best coach of swimming and diving”, a rooster sitting in a lifebuoy on a pole in the water commanded the water birds nearby. That social satire gained hearty agreement from viewers. Another commissioned work “Dad, we’ll be empty nest” depicted his favourite theme on human relationship. It showed two yellow beak young birds, one ready to fly away and another diving. No matter how sad the mother bird was, the father bird treated them with indifference.
Wong’s studio is well organized, neat and clean. Generally everything is well prepared and ready to use during class time. When he was describing the setting and flow of his studio in the interview, I could feel how wholeheartedly he loved clay and his students. Wong emphasized on technique teaching. He thought that students could make whatever they liked once they mastered pottery techniques. He always loves to share his experience whenever students have a technical problem. Hence, they are like friends and free to express themselves in the class.
In these few years, he was invited to be the resident artist for St Stephen College in Hong Kong and taught pottery for a few weeks in a year. That was the reason we could meet in Hong Kong and learned about his art project and teaching in Canada.
Wong loves to share his experience, from techniques, design ideas to tool making. Once we were talking about cutting a thrown enclosed form into a lidded box, I asked him the way to prevent rapid drying at the rim. He told me to tie the box with rubber bands rather than cling wrap at the rim. The rubber band being elastic will hold them together all the time during drying. Moreover, he demonstrated how to use his wriggling wire to make patterns on the surface of a teapot.
What inspiring me most in the interview is his kindness and enthusiasm in pottery. For a man over 70, he keeps sharing his experience with young people and expresses his insight on human relationship and harmony of nature through his artwork. His earnestness not only promotes pottery culture but also lights up people around him.