Alumna Wendy Lau (MA Design: Critical Practice 2017) recently spent six weeks as artist in residence for the Guandu International Nature Art Festival in Taipei, alongside several international artists. Wendy wrote to us about the experience and its significance to her life and career:
“I have learned and experienced so much in this residency, in both aspects of my profession and personal philosophy. Designing creations for a nature park was a new challenge for me, because I had to consider artwork existing in an outdoor context as well as using on-site materials which should not be harmful to that environment. There were limitations at the beginning, but then I managed to turn them into my inspiration, and re-directed my initial approach to a more explorative one.
This project also expands the category of my profession beyond design towards multi-disciplinary art, which focuses more on user-engagement and interaction. I re-interpreted my approach of nature art to discussions, workshops and collaboration. Compared to my previous workshops of which I usually designed the outcome with instructions, I tried to construct the workshops with the participants and let them lead the flow. The workshops I did for this residency were oriented more towards being thought-provoking, with less guidelines but more dialogues. At the end of the workshop, the volunteers who were assisting me in the entire project got to share their individual experience and viewpoints. Many of their thoughts were really inspiring and gave me a new perspective of valuing nature and art.
Developing land art also makes me reflect on my philosophy of design and life. In this programme, I was mainly working in nature and I started to understand more about the ecosystem in real life. I realise it is always a matter of choice if we want to save the planet, or our humanity, whether in the use of material or more importantly in our attitude towards nature. I feel that right now nature and us humans are still not on a fair level co-existing on the planet, but we are the one taking advantage. We have been consuming more than we need. I learned to be less materialistic throughout this project and I became more critical, with more questions which guide me to be a more thoughtful and responsible designer in society. After this residency, I hope to continue to work on projects involving public engagement and communal participation. I really look forward to working with more people from different backgrounds and cultures to exchange our ideas and expertise!”
Read more about Wendy’s Taipei residency on her website.