Asia Society arts award ceremony – an insider’s take

Sunday was a very special day for me and the very beautiful and very talented South African artist Bronwen Shelwell.

(Hope this blog isn’t a conflict of interest, but I think the story is worth sharing! The subsequent proper article might be, but that’s okay)

You see, over at the Asia Society in Hong Kong there happened to be an exhibition of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s works, “Life is Only One.” To complement the show, the society also hosted an art competition.



So Bronwen decided to produce one of her signature glass nests, one which incorporates Nara’s themes of childish characters hinting at darkness and danger. She submitted the pitch, and we were pleasantly surprised when they quickly emailed back that she was a finalist and needed to come to HK to drop off the piece (Well, I wasn’t surprised; I was sure she would do well).

When they emailed soon after to say she was selected as champion of the open division, it was very exciting!

Sunday came and I was honored to be Ms. Shelwell’s “plus one” for the awards ceremony. We made a day of entertaining Hong Kong and enjoying the space.

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Then the ceremony began. It was rather quick, going through the child and youth divisions with various runners up. As champion, Bronwen was the last. There was even a ribbon cutting.

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Afterwards, we were free to go up to the gallery to observe all the interesting works. It was amazing how people can take inspiration from Nara and have such original takes. Glad to see a lot of creativity is happening in Hong Kong today, especially among young people.

Bronwen was able to show off her nest in person, entitled “Home,” and also took interviews.

20150809_152815 20150809_152739 20150809_153552Artist’s Statement:

“Inspiration for this artwork came from my own interpretation of Nara’s process. I wanted to find a way to express a similar innocence, as he does with his childlike imagery, with a subconscious and violent edge. A mixture between anticipation and emptiness. I took a familiar form in the nest; a symbol for home, safety and innocence, but constructed it out of the fragile, delicate, but also dangerous material of glass.

In line with Nara’s process, the base of the glass nest was made out of found materials. A broken glass car window lying on the side of the road. I collected the shards and then made a mould, which I melted the glass into. On this base I assembled glass rods, each one worked into a natural shape over a gas flame. I then built the nest piece by piece, as a child or bird would do.

The final work I left empty. I wanted there to be something read in its vacancy. Something familiar, as with Nara’s imagery, but unnerving at the same time. Taking an object always associated with warmth and safety, but displaying it with a palpable loss.

An intimate, vulnerable trap.”


Lastly, I would like to conclude this post on a note of showcasing some other favored pieces at the exhibition:

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One more final note, some further closeups of the piece for all you true art aficionados out there…

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More information can be found at the Asia Society’s website, and the exhibition will continue until August 16th.


10 thoughts on “Asia Society arts award ceremony – an insider’s take

  1. Had to look for some long time at the nest. It is certainly a masterpiece and its great to win an award! (why oh why I never win any awards except for swimming back in the day? perhaps I should get creative again…)
    Glass is something I never tried, I am okay with wood as I was surrounded by creepy forest people in Finland all my youth so I got down a skill or another :p

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Crazy, I had to stop and look at the nest for a bit. Partially made out of glass from a car window – amazing how something seen as dangerous can be transformed into something more tame. Not everyone would think twice about picking up glass. Congratulations to Bronwen. Recognition is always a great feeling 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Asia Society arts award ceremony – an insider’s take | Assembly

  4. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of art, but the glass nest looks pretty neat and must have taken a lot of effort to make. Also as someone who studied Journalism, I wouldn’t call this a conflict of interest, especially since you admitted in the post your connection to the artist. It would be if this was some kind of review or a award you’re giving out.

    Some neat pieces in that gallery. The progression piece from baby drinks to blood is kind of brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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