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SEEKING EQUILIBRIUM By Tasting Kitchen Magazine (Issue 48)

Ceramicist Amanda Tong transforms childhood lessons of physical harmony and health into contemporary porcelain teaware.



DURING AMANDA TONG’S TRAINING at Central Saint Martins in London, she first came up with the concept for her ongoing marbled porcelain collection, The Perfect Imbalance. Graduating with First Class Honours, she earned a prestigious Sylvia Nisbet Prize for her initial iteration of the collection as well as an artist residency in Poland.


The Perfect Imbalance, says Tong, “is inspired by the Eastern philosophical concepts of yin and yang, specifically how the two opposing energies coexist by constantly finding balance with each other.” What she calls “the soul of the whole collection,” a sculptural series of bowls, is meant to be played with. Purposely unbalanced through their formation and the seesaw-like wooden tray they sit on, the pieces encourage participation. Which way each one tilts depends on the weight of the food being served. “The interactive design prompts the user to take control and adjust the balance,” Tong explains. “Since then, I’ve developed a range of homeware and teaware for people to enjoy, prompting us to look for ways to rebalance for a better life approach.”






When she was a young child, her family practiced yin-yang food therapy, a daily healthy-eating method found in traditional Chinese medicine. Her harmony-focused upbringing has ingrained the importance of balancing bodily energy, something she now brings to her pottery making. For The Perfect Imbalance, Tong mixed black and white porcelain using a Japanese technique called nerikomi, a method she still employs for all the pieces she produces today. Because it is impossible to recreate identical marbled patterns every time, each piece is unique and serves as a metaphor for the individuality of the human body.


Although she now lives and works in Japan, Tong spent much of her life in either Hong Kong, where she was born and later worked, or Britain, where she studied and founded her eponymous brand. Three moves over a seven-year career have given her access to fresh materials, glazes, and ways of working and have revitalized her collection with each change of place and pace. She fondly remembers London, where she first discovered her passion for marbling, for the naivete and courage she had during this formative time. Back in Hong Kong, a lack of access to her “British blend” of clays forced her to experiment yet again. Japan, Tong says, is a place of recharge and respite following life in two of the world’s busiest cities. “It’s been amazing to witness how much the collection has evolved,” she says, “not only from a materials perspective as I explore porcelain sourced from different parts of the world, but also in its meaning, both to me as a maker and hopefully to my audience too. At a glance, the collection may look the same, but I can assure you the pieces have now been infused with a deeper understanding of what it truly means to restore balance.”



By KATE NICHOLSON






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