I was recently asked by BQ Australia Weekly if I would like to be featured for this year's Valentines Day to talk about love. Upon accepting, they interviewed me on my art practice, the Love Letter and my idea of love.
It is now in print all over Australian, you can also get access of a digital copy on www.bqweekly.com.au issue 286 pg.14-15. There's also a copy on BQ Weekly's WeChat page. Or you can read the English translation below.
Presents to you -
A different kind of romance, tell you I love you through art.
Yves Lee and her 'Love Letter' exhibition
"Yves Lee is a rising Sydney-based artist curator born in Canada, raised in Hong Kong whose work is often situated on the borderline of Eastern and Western culture. Her work fluctuates from large-scale ceramic installation (être-là) to impossibly small detailed ceramic pieces. Her typical use of precious and fragile materials pays homage to her family and culture: the fragility and delicacy of its materials is counter-posed by the resilience or repetition and routine that it represents. She is also the founder and curator of Love Letter Art Exhibition."
[The Road of Art]
Yves has always been interested in Art. However, born in an Asian family, it was not an option. Like many daughters from Asian families, she followed the path her family has laid out for her, eventually she was lost. "I did not know who I was, all I did was what other people expected of me." One day, she took courage and did something normal people would consider 'shocking'. Whilst she was studying a different degree in Sydney, she applied for Art School without notifying her parents. During her interview, she told her interviewee Jan Guy, who eventually became her mentor and good friend. "I came for myself. This is the very first time in life I've done something for myself. So I've decided to give this one last shot, if I get in then I'll do my best to be an artist. If I don't, then I will forget about being an artist forever. I'll never think about it." Thinking back, 10 minutes before the interview, Yves got cold feet. While she struggle if she should go into the interview, her only friend she told about this interview, messaged her and reminded her of why she decided to do this. That was when Yves took the courage and headed into the interview that changed the course of her life.
Yves majored in Sculpture Ceramics at Art School. Throwing back, it was her high school teacher Fred Croft who first introduced Yves to ceramics. When she started at Art School, she focused her major in ceramics. As time passed, she expanded her practice into large scale sculpture incorporating ceramics - at that moment she decided to launch her career as an artist. At the same time, she believe that ceramics reminds her of where she came from. "I think the magical thing about clay is that it has memory. Every touch, every mistake during the process of making stays in the clay. I am fascinated in the complexity in something so simple, the elegance of something so down-to-earth. Most importantly, I believe that people should always remember where they came from. No matter how far you go, don't forget what gave you all of this."
[The Beginning of the Love Letter]
The Love Letter was found in 2014, Yves was inspired by her cohort. "I fell in love with a group of people, they are like my family. I always believe that there's the family we are born with, and there's the family we meet." The Love Letter was about the group of young artists she was with at that time in life. Yves said, to be an artist is hard, to be chosen for an exhibition is even harder. She wanted to help these people, for the world to see talents she had the pleasure to admire daily.
"I said to them if I curate a show, will you be in it? I will do this for you guys, cause I love you." As an old fashion 'letter writer', Yves has always written to her friends in England to exchange details about daily life. Therefore, she decided to call the show Love Letter because it was her way of writing a love letter to the people she loves. It is also a platform for them to write a love letter to the people they love and to the public.
Yves spent 5 months curating the Love Letter and it finally opened in 2015. At first, she didn't think it would become a series. Curating an art exhibition requires immense funds, energy and time. It is love, blood and sweat. 2016 was a particularly hard year for her, she could barely make enough to feed herself. But when two of her friends asked if she would be re-curating the Love Letter because they'll like to show their works. Yves took a deep breathe, and said, "Okay, let's do this cause I love you guys. Let's do small." After many obstacles, Yves managed to curate Love Letter: I Believe in Second Chances, and it was a success.
"Every year I try, and I keep trying for the people I love. I work hard to make it work every year, and I will do it as long as I can. At this moment, I am looking at a 5-year goal. Of course, I would love to see it grow beyond that but one must not be greedy and life is full of changes. Starting the Love Letter is because I love my people, and constantly trying to keep it going is saying I will always love you."
There is a different theme to the Love Letter every year, however I wish for the audience to make their own meaning out of it for themselves. I want them make a connection with the artist and their work, to understand the different types of love each work is trying to express. For the audience, it's a journey to discover love. I respect all the artists I work with. I understand the process of making, the amount of energy and love that is being put into the work. Which is why I give each work enough room to breathe, and express itself.
Before the annualLove Letter, Yves will post a 'callout' to look for artist on her website and Facebook page. Every year she chooses her artists carefully, as she wishes to show a series of work from different cultural background, mediums and skill sets. Hoping that they go together, and each shine in their own individual way.
Yves believes in unconditional love. She thinks that people come and go in life, we love, we get heart broken, we fix it and we love again. "Love is love; it’s just that simple. It’s pure and without intentions, it is because you care. That is what I have learnt from the family I’ve met, it is unconditional. And it isn’t finding a boyfriend/girlfriend kind of love, its big love. It is having respect for someone and caring for them, accepting them as who they are and be there for him or her always." She believes that love is care, forgiveness, accepting, home and courage. Occasionally, love makes you idiotic, but it also makes you a better person.
The 2017 Love Letter has a new theme, Be With You. Whilst asking Yves why it is called Be With You, she returned the question, "I will like to ask what comes to your mind when you see ‘be with you’?" She said that she will like the audience have their own understanding of 'Be With You', she hope that the exhibition can create a connection between the people, the artist and the art. "We do our best to give the audience the best show we can, the rest is up to the audience. I believe a good work can bring the audiences to think and to be a little closer to the artists."
For Yves, 'Be With You' is an assurance, a promise. Yves and her cohort has all graduated, and gone off to do their own things. As for Yves herself, she will be expanding her art career in Asia, therefore spending less time in Sydney annually. But no matter where she is, she will like to express through this year's Love Letter: Be With You, "no matter where I am, I will love you and be with you always."
After our interview, Yves will like to express her love to our BQ readers: "I wish everyone a great year of rooster; if there were obstacles in the previous year, I hope it has made you a better and stronger person. Hope everyone can experience 'big love' - a love that feels like home. Wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day!"