Meet the Maker: Edwina Kung

Can you Introduce yourself and describe your practice?

I am Edwina, I’m a visual artist and illustrator From Hong Kong. I create works inspired by stories! My works explore our relationship with memories, people and places through abstract whimsical drawings.

Edwina painting in her studio

Have you always been creative? Do you remember the first thing you painted or made?

I like to think I have always been creative. I remember back in Kindergarten I would tell my friends I wanted to sell my drawings so I can support the family. I think the first thing I painted was a drawing of my hand but my fingers were different animals.

two hugging people with plants coming out of their heads

How would you describe your aesthetic and how have you developed your style?

I would describe my works as whimsical, textured and story-driven. I love working with different mediums in drawings, and I think my style developed as I draw more. I have found the most comfortable and confident way to paint, and most recently it is a combination of oil pastel, acrylic, watercolour and graphite, with a lot of mark making and textures.

an illustration of a tangerine tree with a cat next to it

Who are your art and design heroes?

The artists that first came to mind are Manuel Marsol and the artist duo expanded eye. I love illustrations where you can tell from the mark making and making process that they are very comfortable and confident in what they are making.

a painting of a person with trees coming out of their head

Mental health and wellbeing are subjects that you often visit in your paintings and drawings. What draws you to this subject matter and how has it shaped your work?

I think curiosity draws me to this subject matter. My art practice involves a constant practice of noticing and questioning. By asking questions through making art, it creates conversations with oneself, and the process unfolds stories and reframes stories. It is a tool to help you find ways to answer questions and express things you can’t quite make sense of. And through this process it made me curious about other people’s stories and our collective stories.

a painting of a person

I’m intrigued by the characters in your work. Often, they depict figures with objects seemingly growing out of their necks, distorting, or replacing features, or encompassing the head. Can you talk us through the idea behind these fascinating recurring motifs?

A lot of my work is about the inner mind. When someone asks me, I will say the heads are huge because there is so much going on in our heads! But moreover, each of us has individual stories, and we built connections with each other through sharing our stories. So the idea behind the works is illustrating stories and fragments in life.

a painting of a person with a tree for a head

One of my favourite prints in the collection is entitled The Mooncake Story. Can you tell us the story and/or inspiration behind this image?

The Print “The mooncake story” was inspired by two stories:

Story 1 - Pomelo

On the day of Mid-Autumn Festival, while celebrating with our families with mooncakes and lanterns, we also eat Pomelo.

Here's a little story behind eating Pomelos on Mid-Autumn festival:
Pomelo in Cantonese is “柚子/沙田柚”and has the same pronunciation as “遊子”which means wanderer/traveller. While eating Pomelos, it is with hope that our families who are away from home will travel back on this day.

Story 2- Double yolk mooncake
When I was little, eating mooncake was so much fun during Mid-autumn festival. You slice the mooncake in eight pieces like a cake, and everyone would put their finger on a slice. Afterwards, we would reveal who got the slice with the most egg yolk. This was when only single egg yolk mooncakes were available.

When double egg yolk mooncake hit the market, no one fought for the egg yolk anymore since there's a little piece of egg yolk in everyone's slice.

a painting of people with lemons for heads

You’re currently based in Nottingham. How has the city influenced or impacted your work?

The city has great art spaces like Nottingham Contemporary, Backlit, City Arts and others. I’ve worked with a few of them in different ways and it really helped me to develop as an artist. I’ve also come across many creatives and artists who are based in Nottingham through taking part in fairs and exhibitions. Through that I feel like part of the community that is supportive and encouraging.

a painting of a person

Our visitors will be able to see your work at the Summer Craft Fair at Nottingham Contemporary this June. What do you like and find useful about taking part in craft fairs and events?

Taking part in fairs and events really helped me to reach new audiences and talk to customers face to face. What I love the most is the conversations, hearing people’s responses to my works and the stories they share through seeing my work.

a painting of fish

You have recently started selling your work professionally. What has the transition and process been like and what advice would you give to someone thinking about selling their work professionally?

I don’t think you will ever be fully ready but you will learn through the process. I’ve made many mistakes at the start as marketing and business were very new to me as an artist when I started selling my works. With selling works I think one piece of advice I would give is consistency. Be consistent with making new work and sharing your work, and don’t be afraid to ask other artists questions or advice on things you’re unsure of!

Click here to shop Edwina's pieces online

Interview by Retail Buyer Lucy Martin

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