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Pei-Chi Lee

Pei-Chi Lee

Meet kinetic installation artist, design researcher, and illustrator, Pei-Chi Lee.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a kinetic installation artist, design researcher, and illustrator, who believes playfulness displays strong relations with well-being.

I make works inspired by the unexpected narratives that are found in relationships between people and the environment. Using a sense of humour and a whimsical aesthetic throughout my practice, I like to use a wide range of materials to create kinetic movement to tell stories with an emphasis on tactility and interaction with the viewers.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I’ve been shifting around the world but London is where I developed my identity so let’s talk about London.

Being a creative in London is lucky because creative scenes are accessible and people are generally open and supportive of new things! You can meet lots of interesting people by just walking down the street, and ethnic diversity is also one of the many reasons that make London great! Another perk of living in London is that travelling to Europe is pretty easy, and you get discount tickets very often.

Of course, not everything is perfect, traffic is horrible at the peak time, the living wage is too high, the weather is unpredictable, etc. etc. But there’s no doubt that London is a place that makes me feel like home.

 

Being a creative in London is lucky because creative scenes are accessible and people are generally open and supportive of new things!

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Living in London is great because there are always lots of things going on and you will never get bored. I’ve lived in London for years and I am still surprised by how many possibilities this city offers!

However, everything is a bit too expensive for a young creative. London has become a place that lacks affordable living and studio space. And you can’t really be 100% focused on your practice cause you are also trying to make ends meet and it could be really exhausting sometimes. So all these factors are forcing me to reconsider where should my studio be based.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Exciting, stimulating and exhausted.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I did my BA in Fashion Textile at London College of Fashion, and MA in Textiles Mixed Media at Royal College of Art, London. My practice involved lots of experiments on 3D structures and kinetic movement when I was at school. I wasn’t really sure what I want to do,  but I know what I like and what I am good at. So I tried out everything that interested me and also related to my practice, the idea of making public installation just somehow grows with it. I just graduated from RCA and start getting some opportunities, I am not sure if it means my career has “started” but I am feeling positive about it! Guess there’s only one way to find out!

 

I wasn’t really sure what I want to do,  but I know what I like and what I am good at. So I tried out everything that interested me and also related to my practice, the idea of making public installation just somehow grows with it.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

My family used to think I am “interested in art and she will find an office job at some point afterward”, but it is getting better now. I try to discuss my project with them and engage them into my research, now they are trying to understand what I am doing and even giving me advice on production, which I think that’s really cute.

My partner is always very supportive as we are both artists/ designers, although we specialised in different fields, we see our surroundings in the same way so that’s even better. We help each other with generating ideas and finalising concepts, and we are now thinking to collaborate at some point.

My friends are great especially the crew from RCA. We give each other advice and support each other through those up and down without any doubt, cause we all know how hard it is. We are literally partners in crime and I am grateful to have them in my life!

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

There are so much haha!

The concept of playfulness in public space is not a new thing but people start taking it seriously now. I am currently applying for different kinds of public art commissions, to carry out the theories on how it can actually have an impact on our wellbeing, as well as igniting people’s imagination on public spaces and rethink the possibilities of how our surroundings could be.

 

The concept of playfulness in public space is not a new thing but people start taking it seriously now. I am currently applying for different kinds of public art commissions, to carry out the theories on how it can actually have an impact on our wellbeing, as well as igniting people’s imagination on public spaces and rethink the possibilities of how our surroundings could be.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Ahhh this is hard because I have a long list!

I am really interested in doing set/production design for film.

I will be really happy if I could collaborate with the directors who have a whimsical aesthetic and playful approach, such as Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, or Michael Gondry.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Talented, smart, goofy, but also vulnerable.

 

Talented, smart, goofy, but also vulnerable.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

There was not much of a creative scene around me where I was brought up, and the idea of “creative” wasn’t even a thing in my town.

Luckily I was growing up in a factory in the countryside, which is a natural playground that offers me to play and explore the possibility of the world. My sister and I would be running around the fields and inventing our own toys and games from whatever we found on the street. We moved to the city when I was 10, but that is still a very special part of my memory and it totally shaped the way I see the world.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

I never thought of this until I started doing installation myself.

I was in Pune, India working on an installation for the past two months. I have very little funding and I didn’t have a team. I literally just got out of uni and had to start everything from scratch by myself.

Before I started my production, I visited a few local factories to see if anyone was keen to work with me. As a woman, It took me a while to convince them to take my project and to prove that I KNOW what I am doing. It was kind of chaotic and I have to say the struggle is real. But I finally found an amazing factory, who is very keen on collaboration, they even allowed me to access their workshop! I got to work in the factory with them every day and managed to pull out my installation on time.

In the end, they told me it’s “inspiring” to see a woman working really hard in the factory for what she wants, which I found it pretty amusing, (well, of course, there are still lots of factors, such as cultural difference, language barrier, and stuff), but I am glad I bring in a different perspective to make them reconsider what women can actually do. I think that’s exactly what the world needs now.

 

It takes a while, maybe years, but when you get to that point, all you need to do is shine.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

If you really want something you have to go and get it. Don’t wait around and think that will just happen to you, cause it won’t, at least not for everyone. I am still at the very early stage of my career and I am still figuring out how the industry works and how to breakthrough but I always believe confidence is more about how you feel inside and how serious you take your work. It takes a while, maybe years, but when you get to that point, all you need to do is shine.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Pei-Chi Lee.

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