• Richard Fahey

Over the past 10 months, Kathryn Tsui has embarked on a new body of work catalysed by research into textiles, bead works and ceramics from across Asia and Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa. cloud ribbon draws together visual references and ways of working within these art forms, together with references to Tsui’s own cultural heritage and craft practice.

With origins in imported blue-and-white porcelain from Qing dynasty China, the seminal Blue Willow pattern came into fashion in 18th-century England, signifying both cross-cultural adaptation and a fraught relationship to trade and appropriation. For cloud ribbon, the pattern has been reinterpreted by Tsui into beaded compositions that pay homage to a generation of Aotearoa Chinese creatives – Guy Ngan, Ron Sang, Wailin Elliott. Tsui has captured the homes and studios associated with these practitioners in delicate weavings, a tribute to the connection between domestic and artistic spaces.

Alongside beaded tapestries, a new series of woven wall-hangings were important developments of Tsui’s research. The traditional European weaving sampler combined with Chinese numerology and geometric elements seen on Chinese Dragon robes held in the collections of Te Papa Tongarewa and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira have informed the colour palette and composition of the weaving series.

Across this body of work, Tsui tells a story of patterning that reflects on intersections of Asian and European cultural histories. Celebrating labour-intensive making practices traditionally completed by women and the domestic space as a site of creative production, Tsui presents a layered consideration of her own practice under the influence of her cultural identity.

Kathryn Tsui is a textile-based artist who works primarily in loom weaving and beading and currently lives in Tairua in Te Tara-o-te-Ika-a-Māui Coromandel Peninsula. An ongoing thread in her practice is a focus on mass-produced objects and common patterns where Asian material culture has intersected with other traditions and influences. The result is a dialogue between notions of value and embedded sociocultural hierarchies.

Tsui’s work is held in the public art collections of The Dowse Art Museum, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato and Tūhura Otago Museum. In 2023 she received a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant. She also works as an arts programmer and was one of the organisers of the first Chinese New Zealand Artists Hui in 2013. Tsui holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau (2007).

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  • Ponsonby, Tāmaki Makaurau