Chinese sculptor explores Europe for sake of art
China Daily

Sculptor Leelee Chan studies materials used in her work. Chan is the ninth recipient of the BMW Art Journey. (Photo: China Daily)

Hong Kong-based sculptor Leelee Chan is embarking on a journey across Europe to explore ancient and future materials after slightly adjusting her travel plans due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Her exploration will take her to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom where she will engage with craftspeople, innovators, and scientists in a bid to understand how natural materials may be substituted by synthetic materials in the future.

Represented by Capsule Shanghai gallery, Chan is the ninth recipient of the BMW Art Journey, a collaboration between Art Basel and BMW since 2015 that was created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide.

Chan's project, Tokens from Time, will trace material culture from the past, present, and future.

The project has been described as "the evolving relationship between people and materials and touches on contemporary debates surrounding ecological and cultural sustainability".

Chan's Sunset Capsule installation reflects her experience with extreme urbanization in Hong Kong. (Photo: China Daily)

The pandemic meant Chan had to postpone trips to Japan and Mexico.

Her travels across Europe will depend on the pandemic's developments and be adjusted according to the latest guidelines and regulations.

"I am already amazed by my chance encounters and conservations with various craftspeople that hand-make brass picture frames, marble paper, and domestic pottery in the corners of their small workshops," Chan said during her trip in Italy.

The artist will take part in artisan workshops to learn more about the practice of ancient craft techniques using copper and marble and will visit several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including some of the oldest and largest Christian and Roman mosaics.

"Living under the COVID-19 restrictions in Hong Kong, people have become so used to not touching anything outside their homes. I believe living like this for many months has made me hypersensitive to my new surroundings-watching the hand movements of the craftspeople, feeling their worn tools and materials in my hands, I am ready to soak it all in,' Chan added.

Her sculptures reflect her experience with extreme urbanization in Hong Kong. The 35-year-old's art combines found objects and materials including ceramics from the ancient past.