As a person, I have an affinity to the darkness. It's a relationship of love and hate, one that is intrinsically linked to my past. After experiencing a difficult upbringing, I chose to never hide from my traumas, and instead embrace them in life and work.
This was a process. I would have never described myself as thoughtful or caring. I didn't understand how to truly love until my child came into the world. By confronting my pain, I've learned to laugh freely, find joy in little things and how to love without fear. This approach to life has shown me that light can always be found in darkness, which has inspired much of my creations.
The most defining moment in my life came when I decided to start my own furniture studio. Before that, I worked as a project manager at a fashion brand. One morning I woke up with a burning desire, turned to my then-husband and said 'its time for me to start something of my own'. That day we immediately set everything in motion without so much as a second thought. That decision was very freeing for me. Many people say they are born to do something. I feel very strongly that I was born to do this, and that feeling cements itself further with every piece I create.
As an artist, I am drawn to illusions and the trick of the eye in both a literal and spiritual sense. I've noticed as people we often exist in contradiction to ourselves, making the human mind an illusion itself. I've been exploring these ideas to understand my being better and to examine how we as humans exist within the world at large. This kind of introspection has led me to a spiritual place of comfort and has become a constant inspiration source.
I am fascinated with reflective surfaces for this very reason as it holds a real mirror to ourselves and naturally catches the light, no matter how minuscule. When people witness my work, I want them to feel the heavyweight of emotions imbued in my creations, to see it for all its complexities, for tears to fall down their eyes and a smile to creep across their face simultaneously. Life is an intricate beauty, after all.
I am drawn to illusions and the trick of the eye in both a literal and spiritual sense. I've been exploring these ideas to understand my being better and to examine how we as humans exist within the world at large.
In 1783, the French architectural theorist Étienne-Louis Boullée drafted an impossible piece of architecture – The Newton Monument. Boullée created a spiritual shrine to preserve Newton's achievements, a hollow dome to look out into the stars. Shaw Liu finds inspiration from this unrealised architectural artwork, never built, the work of a dreamer never to be seen. Walking on the streets of Italy, Shaw reflected on the past and future, the tangible and intangible, and the reflection of different objects in different hierarchical spaces. Reflection, she believes, is an indirect expression of the state of interaction.
Fascinated by the visual effects of hallucinations, triggering her personal sensory perspectives. "Derived from the illusion" is the design philosophy that guides Shaw Liu. The unique sense of illusion and futurism born from arc-shaped stainless steel with mirror finishing's inspires her. The collision of intersecting lights, glass and metal, are quiet and restless. When exposed to a mirrored space, there is a phantom-like life that appears. Objects and beings become fickle because of the shift in perspectives. When items are placed in front of a curved mirror image, a distorted illusion appears, expressing itself both directly and indirectly.
The Sanctuary light series is Shaw Liu’s first collection since opening her studio. She fondly remembers working in her studios late at night, looking out in awe of the bright moon in the sky and feeling overcome with gratitude. She too wants to leave behind a golden halo to light up the world.