Wayne Ngan saw the whole world as a work of art, and drew inspiration from the natural beauty around him, says his daughter.
Ngan, a prolific and award-winning Canadian sculptor, painter and ceramics artist, died on June 12 due to lymphoma. He was 83.
“I think as an artist, you have a different way of looking, and he had a particular way. And for him, nature was very much a big part of his life. And I think through nature, he was able to see things differently,” his daughter Gailan Ngan, a ceramics artist herself, told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“I think his whole life is an art project.”
‘A survivor immigrant’
Ngan was born in Canton, China, and immigrated to Canada by way of Hong Kong in 1951 in his teens.
He couldn’t speak English, and he had few resources at his disposal. When he first arrived, he lived near Richmond, B.C., with his grandfather, who Gailan said was not equipped to act as a father figure to Ngan.
“He’s an artist, but he was also a survivor immigrant,” Gailan said. “I say survivor … because he was able to make connections with almost everybody.… Six years later, he was at art school and he was, you know, partly living with an art school teacher of his.
“He knew how to meet people and connect. And I find it amazing, you know, coming without the language and in the 1950s. I can’t imagine the racism he endured.”
According to the Times-Colonist, Ngan attended Vancouver School of Art where he received the Marie E. Lambert Pottery Prize. He graduated with honours in 1963 and moved to Hornby Island, B.C., four years later.
It was there that he would spend most of his life, at a picturesque home studio that he built himself “right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean.”
It’s a sprawling piece of land, Gailan said, some 5,000 square feet, including their family home, which is filled with windows and skylights so nature is ever-present.
“There’s animals, you know, wildlife everywhere, birds, trees, the ocean,” she said.
For many years, the studio’s most prominent feature was Ngan’s massive, Sung Dynasty-inspired wood-fired kiln, which he built himself with money from a Canada Council for the Arts grant.
“It’s almost like having a dragon in your house. It had a presence, you know,” Gailan said, adding that her father eventually took it down — perhaps partly because it wasn’t exactly the epitome of safety.
“He was well-known to the fire department here,” she said.
During his career, Ngan won many awards for his work, including the 1983 Ngan Saidye Bronfman Award for Masters of the Crafts and the 2013 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award of Distinction.
His work has been displayed around the world, including in China, where he often travelled to lead workshops.
But he is also remembered for the inspiration he gave to others, including his former student Douglas S. White, a prominent Nanaimo, B.C., lawyer who spent an entire summer apprenticing under Ngan in 1990.
White, who is also known as Kwulasultun and Tliishin, told the Times Colonist: “I spent the summer being immersed in his rhythm and his approach to making art. I spent the summer being surrounded by beauty.
“I spent the summer drinking out of his bowls, eating off of his plates. In this way, I learned what a good pot is.”
Ngan was also an inspiration to Gailan, who followed in his footsteps as a ceramics artist.
“I grew up in a pottery studio, and I learned a lot, but I didn’t actually start throwing [clay] until I was 19 or 20. But by then, I knew how to do all the other things,” she said.
“I think the beauty about ceramics and pottery is that it is something that is, you know, everyday use, as well as being a sculpture or art. So it’s very much kind of human scale. And I think lots of artists loved his work because of that. They love pottery. Artists love pottery.”
Her father’s work straddles those lines, too, she said.
“The ceramics was a huge range itself, you know, from the very utilitarian bowl or cup [or] tea bowl, to something quite, sculptural — and still in vessel form but sculptural.”
Home again in the end
Toward the end of his life, Ngan spent less time on Hornby Island and more time in Vancouver. But when COVID-19 hit, that all changed.
The whole family decided to ride out the pandemic together at their childhood home. Ngan was there with Gailan and her 11-year-old son, as well as her sister Goya and her two sons, ages 12 and 15.
“It’s a pretty special time, and I think that there’s some sweet moments there,” Gailan said. “It’s also neat to see, like, see my dad and his grandsons. It’s quite striking. I can see the genetics there.”
It’s like the time all three of them built a forge in the nearby parking lot and didn’t tell anyone until they were done.
“They just they love creating stuff,” Gailan said. “It’s great fun to see.”
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Gailan Ngan produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes.
Let's Talk Trash: Fun for faeries; nature-based trail art – Powell River Peak
“Come on kids, let’s go litter in the woods,” said no one ever.
Still, though, sometimes we can’t see the litter for the trees when we encourage placing plastic tokens on trails. Rather than being a party pooper for well-intended traditions like this, why not give them an upgrade?
If you’ve ever wandered the forest with little ones, you may have had to gear down your pace, taking lots of snacks and bathroom breaks. These are great moments to sit trailside and have meaningful conversations about the cycle of nature.
The forest floor is a perfect example of compost in the making, where leaves, cones and other organic debris break down into food for the next generation. If the children (or you) are still too tired to move another step, how about integrating an art break?
You can gather forest treasures and fashion a sweet little creature from moss, bark, rocks, and imagination, or a little faerie home, even bringing up some wildcrafted flowers from home to beautify.
Even grownups love nature-based art. If you’ve never witnessed the creations of Andy Goldsworthy, hold everything and get googling. All of his sculptures are made using objects found in nature, such as icicles, slate, worm-eaten leaves and tannin-dyed twigs.
Goldsworthy even went to the lengths of intentionally building them in places where they would be broken down by changing tides, the flow of a river, or the increasing temperatures of sunrise. His film, Rivers and Tides, is well worth the mesmerizing watch some evening after all your forest adventuring.
Getting out onto our local trails has never been more encouraged, and adding to their magic with gnome homes and leaf-skirted twig faeries could become addictive.
If you are keen to keep moving instead of pausing to create, you can gather a few forest tokens for a home crafting project. Play with natural adhesives, like sap and tension, and enjoy the temporal nature of your creations as they return to whence they came.
Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program. For more information, email info@LetsTalkTrash.ca or go to LetsTalkTrash.ca.
ARTS AROUND: Alberni Valley artists come together at Rollin Art Centre – Alberni Valley News
“TOGETHER” is the newest art exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre, featuring the collaborative talents of Cecil Dawson, Allen Halverson, Nigel Atkin, Lori Shone-Kusmin and Jennifer Taylor.
These five local artists collaborated over the past few months to create a truly spectacular show. This exciting exhibit touches upon significant social issues and features First Nations paintings, surfboard designs, carved river otters, drawings, cedar paddles and so much more.
We invite you to check out our website at www.alberniarts.com, where you can view this and other current exhibits in order to support some amazing artists and the beautiful work they create.
Or give us a call at 250-724-3412 and set up an appointment to come see this worthwhile exhibit.
The exhibit runs until Oct. 7.
ART WORKSHOPS FOR KIDS
Summer is meant for fun in the sun, being kids and spending time with friends.
The Rollin Art Centre will be holding art workshops for children aged nine to 11 every Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.
These four-day workshops are filling up fast, as space is very limited. Each week will be a different medium: Sculpture (July 14-17), Drawing I (July 21-24), paper crafts (July 28-31), Painting II (Aug 4-7), nature art (Aug 11-14), Drawing II (Aug 18-21) and multi-media art (Aug 25-28).
All art workshops will be held outside to follow social distancing guidelines. The cost is $50 per week. Register today by emailing email@example.com or call 250-724-3412.
Every Monday morning (10 a.m. to noon), the Rollin Art Centre will be holding writing camps for kids aged 10-12. Workshops feature a different genre each week.
All writing workshops will be held outside to follow social distancing guidelines. Each week’s workshop costs $15. Spots are very limited, as only five children will be allowed to register per week, so register today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
GARDENS ARE OPEN
The Rollin Art Centre’s gardens are now open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for you to wander and enjoy.
Please note that outdoor areas such as benches and the swing, bandstand and other outdoor touchpoints are not regularly sanitized. Washroom facilities are not available for use.
While on the grounds, please supervise children at all times, supply your own hand sanitizer and practice social distancing by staying two metres apart unless you are part of an established “bubble.” If you are not, and physical distancing is not possible, we recommend that guests wear a mask.
Student Abigail McGourlay wins lockdown art competition – BBC News
A lockdown art competition for young artists has been won by a Sheffield student’s self-portrait.
Abigail McGourlay, 20, was the winner of the national Isolation Artwork competition with a painting of herself in the bath, called Brewing.
Ms McGourlay is in the second year of a fine art degree at the University of Leeds.
“It is due to lockdown that I have rediscovered my love of painting”, she said.
Ms McGourlay said: “The uncertainty of lockdown put me in quite a stressful mindset, and I found it at first difficult to feel motivated.
“This piece captures a real moment of comfort in both my two favourite things, a warm bubble bath and a hot cup of tea.”
The winning artwork, an oil painting on canvas, was selected from a shortlist of eight for the Arts Society’s national competition
Ms McGourlay also works as a swimming instructor and has been furloughed from her job while she continues to study from home.
Young artists were asked by the arts education charity to respond to the theme of isolation and their experience of lockdown.
“I’ve been painting non-stop since Brewing and I can’t wait to get some new ideas under way very soon,” the winner said.
All eight artists’ work is to feature in a digital exhibition until the end of July.
Ms McGourlay will have one of her artworks featured on the society’s 2021 membership card.
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