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Studio practice

I document my studio practice undertaken throughout the research project and present a chronological division of my creative practice into three distinct phases. This structure enables a guided exploration of the reflective and iterative development of the research process. My artistic research is situated at the intersection of contemporary jewellery and performance art, allowing the three phases to facilitate the exploration and expansion of my studio practice into various artistic dimensions (see figure below). These dimensions include installation art, performance art, dance choreography, and costume design, among others, to promote the growth of contemporary jewellery as an interdisciplinary subject.

Phase One focuses on an initial exploration and the development of a test piece to establish a fundamental understanding of the research context through artistic practice. This phase examines research themes related to light, space, and the body. It builds upon my prior experience with UV-responsive materials in my jewellery design, my exhibition experience in creative display methods, as well as my visit to light installations.

Phase Two comprises interactive installations and workshops that engage audience members and researchers from the fields of jewellery, architecture, and performance art.  Light-reflective and UV-reactive textiles, fluorescent plastic loops, mirrors, and wearable objects formed the core components of these installations and workshops. Audience members and researchers were encouraged to touch, play with, and interact with the materials and wearable objects in a dark space. This initial process of co-creation and co-reflection established the foundation for the collaboration with dancers and performers in phase three.

Phase Three focuses on the creation of performative wearable objects, live performances, and engagement in complex making and design processes. After running the three workshops in Phase Two, I gained valuable experience in testing a range of UV-reactive materials and an understanding of how to work with theatrical environments using performance-based approaches. Hence, I decided to advance my research by immersing myself in large-scale performance projects. The research process was further enriched by co-creation and co-reflection. During phase three, I positioned myself in multiple roles, ranging from creating performative wearable objects to engaging in more complex making and design processes, including those related to costume, scenery, and stage design. My involvement in the intricate creative and collaborative process within performance projects fostered dynamic and interconnected relationships between artefacts from different phases, transforming them into more vibrant art forms at this stage.

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Figure. A diagram outlines the development of studio practice in three phases

Between 2019 and 2022, seven workshops were conducted, resulting in a substantial body of artwork including expanded UV-reactive jewellery, wearable objects, performative installations, and live performances. An abundance of visual documentation, such as videos, photographs, sketches, and drawings, was collected throughout the research activities. The principles of co-creation and co-reflection are central to collaborative projects, which foster a dynamic environment for mutual learning, problem-solving, and collaborative innovation within iterative and reflective cycles.

The installation workshops and performances were set up with two aims in mind. First, they aimed to explore the potential of light as a sensory and interactive medium to stimulate the relationship between jewellery, the body, and space, and to understand how the body can actively engage in this process. Secondly, they aimed to enhance the awareness of multisensory experiences through the physical interaction with the installation and material components. The workshops were set up at a range of locations, including the Shell Gallery, the Parkside Building of Birmingham City University, the School of Jewelry, and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The selection of different locations was an adaptation in response to the impact of COVID-19 on my studio practice. Touch the Light projects started from a pilot project that used art installations and audience participation to approach and explore the interactive relationship between UV-reflective materials, the body, and space. Thereafter, it evolved into collaborative projects with dancers, performers, and musicians.

The Cells (2021). Balloon, neon green thread, fluorescent red and green sticky paper dots. Designed and performed by Wanshu Li
Selected videos showcase wearable installations and performances from various studio practices.
Click here to view detailed information and artwork for each studio practice phase.
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