*featured photos: Leafscape. Photo Credit: The Mills & UUendy Lau
“Happy Birthday to Tree” Telling Stories with Colours – Natural Dye Installation
by UUendy Lau
Period: Now – 28th Nov 2021
Venue: The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par St, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong
Photo Credit: The Mills & UUendy Lau
Under the conceptual umbrella: “In Time Of”, The Mills has launched the project “Colour of the Earth” to “uncover the myriad hues through which nature communicates with us, presenting a story that belongs to humans and nature.”
The museum has invited designer-artist UUendy Lau (UU) to present an exhibition on natural dye, titled “Happy Birthday to Tree”.
“Have you touched a leaf with your eyes closed and tried to imagine it transforming from crisp indigo at infancy to a mature, vibrant green and, finally, a withering, pale yellow? Every shade illustrates its remarkable existence and every hue is its effort in communicating to us its story.”
Photo Credit: The Mills & UUendy Lau
For the event, UU has created three installation pieces using gardenia fruit (in yellow), the common madder root (in red) and indigo (in blue) to create a unique colour palette. Inspired by her upbringing in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, she tells a story about a girl and a tree.
“The narrative inspires artistic observation and explores the colours of the Earth through the lenses of flowers, leaves and branches”.
Her artwork includes a series of workshops conducted before the exhibition with different organisations: Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired and St. James’ Settlement Project Care Neighbourhood Elderly Centre.
The activities welcomed community members to explore the relationship between man and nature and how nature speaks to us.
“Natural dyeing has long been in our history books and underscores cultural tales from around the world. It’s not just an environmentally friendly way of dying our fabrics. Still, each dexter has a different craft, meaning every product is a unique art piece that illustrates our story with nature.”
“This is a gift to (and from) nature that expresses blessings”, says the Flower Fairy.
The installation tries to decode flowers from various perspectives into layers of shades, forms and messages. Through a convergent visual angle centring on the heart of the bouquet, the installation invites thoughts and creative dialogues on flowers and thus stimulates a more positive memory and relationship with nature.
“This gift shows our gratitude”, says the Leaf Fairy.
The installation hopes to ‘freeze’ the time of a particular moment and encourages us to pay more attention to our interaction with nature. The site-specific installation shows a whimsical collection of leaves created in peculiar size, shapes and colours, which are playfully suspended on bamboo tubes that reminisces the traditional Hong Kong ways of drying laundry. A daily scenario just as ordinary as how we often encounter nature every day.
“This gift symbolises protection”, says the Branch Fairy. The installation is constructed by a few weaving sculptures, which demonstrate an alternative balance and collaboration between natural materials and man-made creations that carry the spirit of safeguarding and care.
The artwork enquires into cross-contextual interventions and aesthetic expressions on branches and other natural resources and thus prompts more speculations and innovative creations in and with nature.
UUendy Lau (UU) is a speculative designer-artist who creates projects that provoke alternative explorations and discourses on nature. The main theme of her work centres on ‘nature and animals’, a universal and inclusive subject permeating all cultures, languages, lifestyles and beliefs. Upon her graduation from the Goldsmiths University of London with an MA in Design: Critical Practice and HKPolyU with BA Design: Industrial & Product, UU has directed her creations to make discursive inquiries into unfamiliar juxtapositions between the natural world and human-made inventions through creative processes of researching, designing and making. Her projects range in various creative disciplines, including object design, illustration and art installation.