Working with clay for 40 years, Ms Wong May Lee 黃美莉 is an all-round ceramicist. Her pottery teaching is not much less; it is more than 30 years. One can imagine how great the number of students of hers from all walks of life. Besides, some of them become her acquaintances. In 2002, she went further her contribution to the ceramic culture in Hong Kong and organized the Society of Hong Kong Ceramic Art 香港陶瓷研藝協會 for all ceramics lovers.She was commended for her outstanding contributions by the government in 2013.
In her late 60s, Wong always carries a friendly smile on her face. Her enthusiasm and humbleness gain trust and friendship from people she meets. The friendship she developed with other potters and masters encourages her explorations in ceramic culture and techniques. Although mostly self-taught she is, she has much experience in clay.
Hong Kong being a very compact city, most potters use electric kilns. Wong is not confined herself with electric kilns. Actually in the early 80s she established her first pottery studio Tao Tao Fong 陶土坊 with a friend in the suburb of Fanling 粉嶺 ,Hong Kong. While she was waiting for her gas kiln from England, she did a lot of experiments on alternate firing such as pit firing and Raku.
In the early 90s, she went to Australia for two years to study ceramics at the National Art School in Sydney and then a residency at the Jam Factory at Adelaide. Her research was mainly on Raku. Being a frontier init, she was invited to share the firing technique by conducting workshops in Hong Kong and ceramics institutes in mainland China. Besides she experimented different ways of firing such as gas and wood firing at her oversea artist-in-residencies.
Hence, her work shows her journey of explorations. Celadon pots she made in Jingdezhen 景德鎮 and Longquan 龍泉 are distinguished by their cultural significances. The celadon pots using Brothers Clay 哥弟泥 from Longquan are amazingly valuable due to its low survival rate. The technique is to compose two clays of different shrinkages in a pot and aims for rhythmic disposition of big and small crackles. The pots she made in Jingdezhen reveal a literati ink painting style. The tea set wood fired in Taiwan recorded the marks of the flame and path of the fallen wood ashes during the firing. More over marvelous colour of her Raku mural conveys the message of warm and happiness from the nature.
In 2002, with the support of her students, she organized the Society of Hong Kong Ceramic Art. It gathers ceramic lovers by running workshops on selected topics or overseas cultural exchange. Their footsteps have been at Jingdezhen 景德鎮 , Yixing 宜興, Hubei 河北 and Foshan 佛山 in mainland China, Taipei 台北 and Taichung 台中 in Taiwan. Through these visitsand cultural exchanges, Wong led the members to meet her committed friends and places thatshe visited before.
Every trip brought the members to experience as enthusiastic clay lovers wondering in these pottery sites and immersing themselves in the culture of ceramics, from materials to artwork. Localerudite artisans demonstrated not only skills and aesthetics of the traditional form butalso their sincere warmth and geniality to those visiting clay lovers who were filled with awe. The history of these places tells the ways ceramic tradition passed from generations to generations for hundreds or thousand years. These pottery sites no matter they are lively or destroyed, emerging or reviving nowadays are inspiring those passionate ceramic lovers. Eventually a big book of ceramics isopen for them.