|Võ Trân Châu. Photos courtesy of the artist|
Artist Võ Trân Châu uses only environmentally-friendly materials such as fabrics and second-hand clothes. Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with her about making ready-to-use products and her career in contemporary art.
You have worked with fabrics to create art for many years. You also opened a studio to make sustainable products. What difficulties did you encounter to achieve your goals?
I studied to become a painter but I like working with fabrics so that was what I decided to do. My artwork or ready-to-use products are equally created to ensure aesthetic and emotional values.
Artworks have a conception behind while ready-to-use products focus on how to choose suitable material for usability.
The products in my studio are designed to use natural threads and handmade techniques. I use tone-on-tone and pastel colours towards nature.
I am not pressured to make environment-friendly products because I like it so I don't think it is too difficult for me.
I used to have a team helping with embroidery, design and sewing. But now only a lone craftswoman and I do everything.
My brand TranChau Studio is new in the business. My customers are mainly my friends who love the beauty and honour meticulous craftsmanship.
How do you make environment-friendly products with fabric?
In my studio, we use small cloth pieces to make designs. It helps to solve fabric scraps problem.
I don't want to hurt animals so I don't use leather or silk. I make good use of fabric scraps from my family's craft workshop and from industrial garment production.
I want to develop my brand sustainably and environmentally-friendly. I also think a lot about recycling.
I make the ready-to-use products with traditional techniques to preserve the tradition.
|Artist Châu made a blanket from scraps of fabric.|
Could you tell about your journey from a traditional embroidering and tailoring family to HCM Fine Arts University?
I believe I am a slow person. I'm slow at working, slow to think and I also speak slowly. So, my art journey passes slowly. But I'm very lucky to meet wonderful people along the way.
I begin group exhibitions at domestic comp temporary art spaces. This is when I experienced contemporary art. Until 2015, I was chosen to participate in a six-month resident programme at the Sàn Art Laboratory. I had a chance to learn many things from international experts and artists.
I made a piece called Thủy Ảnh (Water Image) there. It is a milestone in my career. It made strong impression on the international curators. One of them was looking for a Vietnamese artist for Ireland's Biennial of Contemporary Art. I was honoured to attend the event and later I felt on a par with international artists at another contemporary art exhibition in China.
I have opened my mind after experiencing these wonderful things. When I decided to work with fabric materials, I spent more than a year on my first solo exhibition in 2017. A Japanese curator saw my work on the internet and came to Việt Nam to meet me.
At his invitation, I participated in the opening exhibition of Centre for Heritage, Arts & Textile in Hong Kong with the work Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life.
They are the most memorable aspects of my journey so far.
Why do you work with fabric?
When I begin with art I know that I have to find the best material for me. I also tried to create artwork with natural materials such as cotton, newspaper, or performance art.
After that, I recognised that fabric is the best for me. When I was small I would often visit my family's workshop and I have stuck with fabric for many years. I know it well and when I work with fabric it gives me pleasure.
Plus, people wear clothes everyday and I see that they are imbued with their own personal stories and reflections on the grand narrative of nation states and society. I delve into the social and cultural history of the country and create artworks with fabric and old clothes to tell stories in my own way.
What upcoming projects do you have planned?
I working on many art projects and I'm planning a solo exhibition in early 2024 as well as group exhibitions. I have also received an invitation from Wende Museum in California, US to visit there early next year. VNS