Sea Pearl White Cloud is a project realised through a collaboration between 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, located in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, and Guanzghou’s Observation Society, one of China’s most exciting contemporary art project spaces. Bringing together Sydney-based artist Lucas Ihlein and Guangdong-born, Hong Kong-based artist Trevor Yeung, Sea Pearl White Cloud presents new works informed by questions of temporality, exchange and poetics that reflect on the urban condition in the twenty-first century.

This exhibition, presented at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art from 30 July – 24 September 2016, is the second iteration of a two-stage project that saw an exhibition of works by Ihlein and Yeung presented at Observation Society in Guangzhou from 2 June – 24 July 2016. Sea Pearl White Cloud at 4A will unveil the works produced by the artists in Guangzhou alongside new works produced in Sydney that extend the themes and ideas underpinning the artists’ practice and collaboration.

Following fieldwork within the distinctive spatial and social setting of the residential community in which Observation Society is situated in Guangzhou’s district of Haizhu, as well as further afield throughout the Pearl River Delta, this project has arisen from conversations and research undertaken by the artists over nine months. Ihlein and Yeung’s conceptual approaches are informed by quasi-scientific methodologies of tracking and testing various dynamic systems of movement and stasis, control and disorder. Their aims as artists have little to do with producing knowledge in the traditional sense, but rather serve to propose poetic visual and gestural allegories that seek to illuminate everyday occurrences of material and spiritual transformations.

Trevor Yeung’s works are particularly concerned with manipulations of nature – as in his use of UV lighting, dehumidifying units and aquariums – to poetically propose connections between nature, the material world and their emotional import. Complementing this, Lucas Ihlein has extended his ongoing interest in Sydney’s more hidden and neglected natural waterways to that of Guanzghou. Ihlein’s series of screen prints expose a topography of the precarious projections of sea level rise as it might affect Haizhu and the broader Pearl River Delta as the most densely urbanised landscape in the world. This artistic collaboration across themes and context is signaled by the project’s title: Haizhu (海珠) or ‘Sea Pearl,’ signaling a process of materiality – and even beauty – being forged through time; and Baiyun (白雲) or ‘White Cloud’, suggestive of interminable transience, while in a more practical sense being the name of the district in which Guangzhou’s international airport is located and where Trevor Yeung originally sourced live fish and water for his work.

This project is supported by the City of Sydney with Observation Society’s exhibition opening in June being part of the official program of the City of Sydney and Guangzhou Municipality’s civic celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of their sister-city relationship. Having artistic collaboration at its heart – between individuals, organisations and cities – this exhibition builds on the links between cities while forging new modes of dialogue that reflect on our shared local, regional and global experiences.

Complementing the two-stage exhibition project 4A, with the support of the City of Sydney and Art Monthly Australasia, appointed Minerva Inwald as the recipient of the inaugural 4A Emerging Writer’s Project. Selected by a panel comprising Michael Fitzgerald, Editor, Art Monthly Australasia; Luise Guest, Director of Education & Research, White Rabbit Collection; and Pedro de Almeida, 4A Program Manager and Editor of The 4A Papers, Minerva is an integral part of the project team, having undertaken her own fieldwork as Observation Society’s exhibition unfolded in June, and more recently extended to Sydney. Her research will see texts published The 4A Papers and other titles, documenting the development, realisation and reception of the exhibitions along with interviews with the artists.


Public Program:

Talking about rice while eating rice

Thursday 11 August

6.00PM – 7.30PM

Free – Book Your Seat.

Join us for an evening with this most ubiquitous of grains.

Building on his recent visit to a rice farming enterprise in Guangdong province, Lucas Ihlein hosts a conversation with artist Vic McEwan, recipient of the Arts NSW Regional Fellowship 2014-15 (NarranderaNSW), and rice farmer Tim Randall (Griffith NSW). Discussion will focus on asking what social, environmental and economic factors affect rice farming communities in Australia and China today?

Several varieties of Randall Organic Rice will be sampled on the night!

This 4A Centre for Contemporay Asian Art public program is a co-production with the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation (KSCA) and the Material Ecologies Research Network (MECO) at University of Wollongong.





Lucas Ihlein (b. 1975, Sydney, Australia) is a Wollongong-based artist whose current work explores the relationship between socially engaged art, agriculture and ecological management. He is a founding member of artists’ collectives SquatSpace, Big Fag Press, and Teaching and Learning Cinema.Exhibitions include The Yeomans Project (with Ian Milliss), Art Gallery of New South Wales (2013-14); Green Bans Art Walk, The Cross Arts Projects & Big Fag Press, Sydney (2011); In the Balance: Art for a Changing World, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2010); There Goes the Neighbourhood, Performance Space, Sydney (2009); The Bon Scott Project, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth (2008); and Bilateral, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide (2002). He completed a PhD at Deakin University, Melbourne, in 2008 entitled Framing Everyday Experience: Blogging as Art, which won the Alfred Deakin Medal for best Doctoral Thesis in Humanities and Social Sciences. A recipient of numerous awards and artist residencies, in 2015 Ihlein was awarded a prestigious Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship for Emerging and Experimental Arts. He is currently an ARC DECRA Research Fellow at University of Wollongong, Australia.

Trevor Yeung (b. 1988, Guangdong Province, China) lives and works in Hong Kong. He graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2010. Yeung’s practice uses botanic ecology, horticulture, photography and installations as metaphors that reference the emancipation of everyday aspirations toward human relationships. Solo exhibitions include No Pressure, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zürich (2015); Garden Cruising: It’s Not That Easy Being Green, Blindspot Gallery, Art Basel Hong Kong (2015); That Dog at the Party, Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong (2014); and Trevor Yeung’s Encyclopedia, Observation Society, Guangzhou (2013). Group exhibitions include Adrift, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen (2016); Peep Show, Long March Space, Beijing (2015); A Hundred Years of Sham – Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations, Para Site, Hong Kong (2015); and Social Factory, 10th Shanghai Biennale, Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2014).


Minerva Inwald is a current PhD candidate in the Department of History, University of Sydney, whose research focuses on the history of the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) between 1958 and 1989. Using Chinese-language primary sources to examine how exhibitions as this prestigious space were used to communicate ideas about the role of art in China in relation to conceptions of ‘the people,’ her research seeks to investigate broader questions of how art objects circulate in museum contexts, as well as outside museums such as in domestic, work and public spheres. Minerva graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Languages) Honours degree from the University of Sydney in 2012, and in the same year was awarded the Francis Stuart Prize for Asian Art History form the Department of Art History. She has contributed a number of papers at academic conferences in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and recently undertook an 8-month postgraduate exchange program at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts.