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Wayne Ngan

"Sometimes I close my eyes when making a pot and the pot is all around me, like music; when I open my eye, the pot is in front of me. When I am decorating a pot, it is like the wind striking a bush or a tree - a certain movement, just one mere movement - that's it. The simplicity of it inspires me. The language of my life is in pottery".

Artist Wayne Ngan was born in Guangdong, China, in 1937, and immigrated to Canada in 1952. When Ngan arrived in Canada he spoke very little English, and living with his grandfather near Richmond, B.C., found access to resources and community challenging. Ngan began to express himself through art and attended Art school where he was awarded the Marie E. Lambert Pottery Prize, furthering his passion for creation. In 1963 Ngan graduated from the Vancouver School of Art with honours. In the years that followed Ngan would go on to experiment with drawing, painting, ceramics and sculpture garnering him attention and a formative solo-show at one of Vancouver's renowned commercial galleries, Bau-Xi Gallery in 1965.

In 1967 Ngan moved Hornby Island, a move that would firmly integrate his passion for weaving together his art, his life and the beauty of nature. Ngan spent most his time working in his home studio which overlooked the ocean and centred around an enormous, 300 cubic foot, Sung Dynasty-inspired wood fire kiln which he built himself. Continuing to work and create for many years, Ngan exhibited both in Canada and Internationally at prestigious institutions including the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Hanart Galleries in Hong Kong and Taipei, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Canadian Craft Museum, among others.

When Wayne Ngan received the Saidye Bronfman award in 1983, Doris Shadbolt wrote "In the pottery of Wayne Ngan we find, perhaps more strongly and consistently than in the work or any other Canadian potter, the presence in form and spirit of Far-Eastern ceramics. Today, Ngan has a firm reputation as a totally committed studio potter. Living and working by the sea, in a house and kiln-equipped studio all of his own design and making, he has achieved an integration of his life and art that embodies the values of his simplicity and wholeness at the centre of his personal philosophy. Ngan's holistic approach to art is neither sought after not capable of realization by most craftspeople today, but his example has the force and persuasiveness of the committed and productive visionary. Out of this commitment have come works that reassert pottery's fundamental meanings while at the same time they echo some of its great moments in time".

Ngan won many awards for his works, such as the Award for master of crafts and the 2013 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award of Distinction. Wayne Ngan passed away in 2020 and left an indelible mark on the history of art in Canada, as well as on his many students and those he met and worked with throughout his life and career.

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