Cindy Huang explores exchange, ancestry, and materiality in her solo exhibition. Her installation of hundreds of handmade porcelain lilies aims to explore the lack of recorded knowledge about the Chinese settlement locally in Tāhuna and regionally in Ōtākou and Murihiku.
For this exhibition, Cindy has explored the rich seam of Chinese Gold mining that exists within the Otago region. Having discovered that she has a Chinese ancestor who came to Otago during the 19th-century gold rushes, Cindy has found a personal affinity with the history of Chinese settlement here in the Whakatipu. Her creative response to this research aims to encourage conversations around local Chinese heritage and increase audience’s understanding around the historical Chinese connections to Otago.
The handwritten poem above functions as the exhibition title and offers an intimate glimpse into the delicate process of considerations made. Existing together neither poem nor artwork is complete without another.
The installation of lilies represents the Chinese lilies that are said to flower annually in the area of Round Hill. Round Hill or ‘Long Hilly’ is located between Riverton and Orepuki which was the most southerly Chinese settlement in the world between the 1870’s and the early 1900’s. The lilies are found in Port’s Water Race, a route that follows the path of a water race cut through heavy bush by Chinese miners in 1888-89. They are one of the few traces of the Chinese settlement, flowering once a year during Christmas and Chinese/Lunar New Year. These lilies are said to have been imported by the miners and planted throughout the forest.
Alongside the ceramic lilies are vases which will be full of flowers picked locally. The audience is invited to take a flower from the vase, but only if they are replaced with another. This exchange of object is a common thread throughout Huang’s work.
ABOUT CINDY HUANG:
Cindy Huang grew up in Rotorua and currently lives in Tāmaki Makaurau. She holds a Bachelor of FineArts (Honours) from Elam School of Fine Art (2019) and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Media (2018), and a Masters in Heritage Conservation in Museum and Cultural Heritage (2022) from the University of Auckland. Huang is a ceramic artist whose practice performatively explores ideas of exchange, generosity and adjacency. Her research interests focus on the histories of local Chinese migrant communities and the complex relationships of tauiwi, non-indigenous New Zealanders can and could have as tangata Tiriti. In previous works, Huang has highlighted the lack of recorded knowledge around Chinese and specifically, the reciprocity between Māori and Chinese histories in Aotearoa.