As one of the first few vendors that have been with us since the opening of Niniveh, Margaret has consistently blown us away with her interpretation of the ceramic as a medium, especially her use of ceramic lamps as the embodiment of her imagination. Through surreal characters born from fantastical daydreams and reveries of another life, the individual pieces possess their own set of quirks and come with their own relatable backstories that always leave us wanting for more.
Recently we had a chance to catch up with Margaret for comments on her newest ceramic lamp collection, all exclusive for Niniveh. Read on to find out the journey thus far for these exuberant and ever-lovable characters.
1. We see that you’re introducing more characters this time around. What would you name this newest collection and can you elaborate on the concept behind it?
Actually, these new characters are like a sequel or an upgraded version to the previous characters, i.e. The Fish that Lives in the Desert, The Waiting Madam, The Fat Man Who Owned a Fish, A Cactus Life, and The Lighthouse. The Sitting Boy is the son of The Fat Man and The Waiting Madam. Shell-y is another form of The Fish. Madam at Ball is The Waiting Madam who’s had enough of waiting and goes to a ball. A Floating Cloud is the cloud above The Lighthouse and the one who befriends the Cactus during its picnic day. The Medusa is the only character unrelated to the previous series. Each Shell-y or Madam or Cloud is also distinctly different in shape to show that each of them is a different soul.
2. Do you have any particular source of inspiration or a backstory that drew you to create these pieces?
I have always been drawn to fantasy worlds to the point where all my friends say I live in my own make-believe world. I guess my inspiration in creating these pieces is my non-attachment to reality. I am afraid to grow into an adult that I keep going back and forth, down to the memory lane of my childhood when I created these lamp pieces. When I think of a shape, I visualize it as a living character. I would giggle to his or her plump belly on my own, so creating his or her story thrills me.
3. Supposedly the characters meet irl, how do you think the interaction would go?
Pleasantly and frantically at the same time. It would be like a mystical playground where I am their god!
4. Can you share a little bit on how you came about to creating ceramic lamps?
I cannot sleep in total darkness, so small lamps hold a certain meaning in my mind. I imagine the lamps with the body that keep me safe at night. Also, I feel like my university years learning interior architecture triggered my affinity toward lights and shades.
5. Ceramics can be unpredictable. What challenge(s) came with creating larger and more intricate pieces?
By nature, ceramics are prone to breaking. Creating larger and intricate pieces mean greater possibilities for them to break during firing. If they do shatter during the process, it takes time to rethink and remodel the pieces.
6. Did you discover and/or apply any new techniques to the pieces in the collection?
I won’t call it a new technique since I only paint over the surface of the finished ceramics with paint markers (mostly gold). When I found the body of the ceramic lamp was broken, I covered the cracks with paint markers and turns out that gives extra depth to the piece, at least to my eyes. It’s like kintsugi (Japanese art of mending the areas of breakage with lacquer and gold powder) but in a cost-friendly and easier way.
- Favourite piece? Favourite piece would be the “Medusa”, since it is the newest character.
- Glazing or hand-painting? Both.
- Something you want to explore in the future? I would like to explore more on furniture other than lamps like table or stool and even incorporating the lamps with the table or stool.
Explore ceramic lamps by Margaret Yap here. Exclusive only for Niniveh.