An exploration of collaborative ceramic and sound art practice in Britain and China
Interbeing is our most ambitious project to date, a China-UK ceramics and sound collaborative project taking place throughout 2021, funded by Arts Council England. It explores cultural exchange between the UK and China, through a series of exhibitions, performances and residencies at The Ceramic House, Powell-Cotton Museum, Chiddingstone Castle, London Chinese Community Centre and online. The concept of ‘Interbeing’ comes from the Heart Sutra, a Buddhist text, showing how everything in the material world is intimately connected.
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. […] ‘To be’ is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to do inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.”
(Thich Nat Hanh from ‘The Heart of Understanding’, 1998)
In our connected global culture of the 21st century, Interbeing explores the cultural connections that unite artists from different backgrounds and disciplines. In our post-Covid-19 era, the ways that we cooperate trans-nationally are of particular importance to continue to support and encourage communication and collaboration across closed borders.
Inter-being is a Buddhist concept that comes from the Heart Sutra and, in the context of the Interbeing project, explores the cultural connections between two seemingly very different cultures, the UK and China. By starting from a point of similarity rather than distance, we hope to foster and encourage a deeper understanding between artists from the two countries, especially at this time when the challenges of Covid-19 are pressing us towards more open international collaboration.
Interbeing is curated by J Kay Aplin (ceramics) and Joseph Young (sound art) and is the continuation of an investigation into collaborative sound art and ceramic practice that started with Landscape: Islands (2016) and Made in Korea (2017).
Exhibition: Emptiness is Form, The Ceramic House
Residency/Exhibition : No Interdependent Origins, Powell-Cotton Museum
Film: Listening Hands, London Chinese Community Centre
Exhibition : Neither Increasing Nor Decreasing, Chiddingstone Castle
Artist book & CD: Perfection of Understanding
Photo Essay: Silk Roads and Floral Routes
The Interbeing project launched in May 2021. The Ceramic House hosted Emptiness is Form, an exhibition featuring contemporary Chinese ceramics by international artists of Chinese heritage.
In June-August the Powell-Cotton Museum hosted No Interdependent Origins, a remote residency and exhibition for two Hong Kong ceramic artists represented by Karin Weber Gallery, Annie Wan and Lau Yat Wai, who collaborated with two UK artists working in sound, Emily Peasgood and Dan Thompson. The results of their collaborations were displayed in the historic setting of Quex House.
In September a new sound art/performance film Listening Hands devised and created by Joseph Young was produced in collaboration with a Vitafilms. Joseph worked with a Tai Chi master and group at London Chinese Community Centre. The film featured Joseph’s custom made Sonic Baton instrument conducting sounds recorded in China and the visual language of the Tai Chi movement style was premiered on 3rdOctober and simultaneously at Park 19 in Guangzhou, China.
In September-October Neither Increasing Nor Decreasing, a virtual exhibition coordinated in partnership with Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts was launched online, pairing established Chinese ceramists with objects from the Buddhist Collection at Chiddingstone Castle.
In January 2022, the book and CD Perfection of Understanding concluded the project. Three UK artists (Andrew Livingstone, David Cushway and Valeria Nascimento) created new commissions for the book and five Chinese sound artists (Sin Ned, Sun Wei, Sheng Jie, Echo Ho and Hui Ye in collaboration with Vivian Xiaoshi Qin) produced new sound pieces for the album.
New ceramic work by Kay Aplin, Ceramic Wallpaper: Peonies consisting of a wall-mounted porcelain tiled installation, inspired by traditional Chinese floral symbolism, has become a photo essay, Silk Roads and Floral Routes, compiled into the book and launched at Contemporary Ceramics Gallery in London in January 2022.
Just do it – Together
By Wendy Gers
Interbeing is an international cross-disciplinary art project that includes and occasionally associates sound and ceramics artists in the UK and China. In 2019, Kay Aplin (ceramics) and partner Joseph Young (sound art) initiated an experimental research platform for dialogue and collaboration. Commissions, residencies, performances, and exhibitions were planned with a global web of partners, including Chiddingstone Castle, Kent (UK), Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (China), Karin Weber Gallery (Hong Kong), London Chinese Community Centre (UK), Powell-Cotton Museum (UK), Shanghai University (China), and The Ceramic House (UK), among others. Building on previous sound and ceramics projects, Interbeing is Aplin and Young’s most ambitious endeavour to date. The complexity of the project was amplified when the Covid pandemic struck and it underwent a series of transformations as local and international travel was rendered impossible, art, heritage and education institutions closed, and some partners withdrew. A series of creative responses were put in place to mitigate the crisis, and the project was moved online when in person activities were impossible.
The Sonic Dimension of Inter-being
By Joseph Young
The Interbeing project continues our ongoing research into the collaborative possibilities between two very different media – ceramics and sound. The idea of Interbeing (the interconnectedness of all things)1 impliesimplicitand explicit connections between even those cultures and cultural expressions that appear on the surface to be very different. It follows that sound is almost the perfect media with which to explore this interconnectivity, one that is pervasive, porous and goes beyond borders2.
Interbeing is produced by The Ceramic House in partnership with:
Powell-Cotton Museum (UK)
Karin Weber Gallery (Hong Kong)
Shanghai University (China)
Chiddingstone Castle (UK)
London Chinese Community Centre (UK)
Park 19 Art Space (China)