Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Informal Residency


Opening: Friday, January 9, 2004, 8pm
Artist talk: Saturday, January 17, 2pm
Curator: Alice Ming Wai Jim
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am  6pm


Vancouver artist Gailan Ngan’s Informal Residency began in the summer of 2003 when she made arrangements to work on several large formal ceramic sculptures at a brick manufacturing plant located on the Sumas First Nations Reserve in Abbotsford, BC. The Sumas Clay Products factory, with over a dozen giant beehive kilns – some almost a century old and among the few still operating in Canada today – offered the artist access to industrial facilities which her pottery studio could not accommodate. It also provided the artist with the opportunity to explore the divergences between industrial and craft techniques and engage with a cultural community outside of her usual realm of experience. Over the course of two months, Ngan’s process of making objects became inextricably connected to the act of dwelling – not only in a place, by the artist and the people from diverse cultural backgrounds working in the plant around her, but also dwelling on memory, brought upon by the regular commutes to the Reserve and the casual but informative conversations that took place.

During her month-long residency and exhibition at Centre A, Gailan Ngan will produce a ceramic installation that addresses the meaningful relationships she developed and her overall experience in Sumas. She will bring together an array of clay objects – from wall-to-wall freshly extruded industrial products in different states of drying to hand-built kiln-fired ceramic “seats” offered as an alternative to mass-produced modern furniture. In this way, Informal Residency presents a map of the artist’s creative process during her different acts of dwelling, intimating associations between memory and material, heritage and land. At the same time, Ngan’s adaptation of these components – that implicitly draw meaning from other places – to the space of a gallery, continues the practice and discussion of ceramic installation as a medium in contemporary art. The exhibition is accompanied by a “map-fold” catalogue that includes essays by Gailan Ngan, Alice Ming Wai Jim and Linda Sormin

Gailan Ngan has been a professional ceramist and artist since 1995. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design and has shown in a number of group exhibitions in and around Vancouver. For Ngan, working in ceramics has been a way to gain a deeper understanding of her Asian Canadian heritage; her father, from China, and her mother, from France, who moved to Canada in the 1950s and 60s, are both also practicing artists. Informal Residency is Gailan Ngan’s first solo exhibition and artist residency and the first exhibition of ceramic art by Centre A.

Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of its individual donors, private foundations and government funding agencies, including the Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Art Council, and the City of Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs.