Clay, pottery, vases, plates. But who would have thought windchimes too? Or is it a mobile? Or a musical instrument? It was certainly not what I expected when I visited one of my favorite places in Singapore — Jalan Bahar Clay Studios — during their open house on October 5, 2013. I never fail to find something interesting and beautiful there.
The beautiful surprise this time is Charlotte Cain’s windchime. It is white as bone, smooth, matte and makes a distinct sound in the breeze!
As it was an open house, I was able to pop into the artist’s studio for a enlightening chat with its creator. Danish-born Cain told me the windchime was an idea she had originally proposed for a subway station here in Singapore. The piece was meant to be hung high, and viewed from below. “People these days walk around with their heads down looking at their handphones all the time. This will perhaps encourage them to look up and discover another view,” she said. I can imagine what a marvelous view that would be.
The windchime is made up of many pieces of clay “discs”. Each is first fashioned thin as potato chips, then laid on a sand bed for firing. The wavy edges are formed naturally as the clay hardens in the kiln. They are then threaded with a transparent thread, and suspended to form a “cloud” shape.
The windchime is certainly expressive: each individual part looks fragile, yet they are actually very strong. The sound they make is dry and crisp, not sharp and ringing. It’s the clay singing with a porcelain accent.
To me, they look like the good-karma reincarnation of a beautiful flower, its petals separated but now reunited in a new design, its beauty not only visual but sonic as well.