Cloud is the result of a year-long international collaboration led by the Academy Award-winning Tim Yip, the art director behind Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The project is a multi-faceted experience; part fashion show, part celebration of design, part video installation, part workshops, and part five metre tall doll. Appearing across Royal Festival Hall as part of our China Changing festival, Cloud explores futurism, identity and the environment and brings together Tim Yip Studio and artistic collaborators Mei-Hui Liu and NJ Stevenson with some of London’s most exciting fashion designers and young participants.
Ahead of its arrival at Southbank Centre, Tim Yip and Mei-Hui Liu - one of the leading designers on the project - kindly spoke to us about Cloud, starting with the inspiration behind this quite unique creation.
‘I have always thought that Globalisation will finally bring us to a new relationship with tradition,’ explains Tim Yip. ‘Everyone seems the same as others, but in fact there are big differences between individuals. They are living in different sections of a city; different nationalities, different personalities, different histories. All these memories are flowing to the sea as time passes. These materials seem to disappear forever. But after half decade of economic development, all memories seem to be coming back to show us that the environment has been losing the order nature gave it’.
‘That is why I’m dreaming of Cloud,’ Tim Yip continues, ‘some silent eyes to see our time in reality. Idealistic human life, and long-lasting nature changing; the loss of tradition in so called 'third-world' countries. Teenagers have pure eyes reflecting the world they see, no matter where they come from, they are sharing the same future’.
As with Tim Yip, Mei-Hui Liu is keen to stress the nature of a state of flux, but also the opportunity presented to them, by working with London’s teenage creators. ‘The world is changing, with a new future for young people, in terms of society, environment and the diversity of London,’ she explains. ‘The collaboration between Tim and many great London artists and designers is the first time we’ve been able to create such a strong concept and project. Making this happen is a brave, but exciting challenge.
Teenagers of course play a core role within this project, collaborating on design, and also featuring in Cloud’s video installation. Could even someone as esteemed in the world of art direction and costume design as Tim Yip learn new things through meeting and talking with the young people involved in the project?
‘I can hear through young people's voices how they feel the world; with hope or without. Hesitation comes from most of them about the future. They are very concerned about their value, and values. They have their own opinions about themselves and about the wide world. Most of them worry about nature, politics, and their capabilities for living’.
Mei-Hui Liu is no stranger to meeting new people and considering different mindsets, but even she was struck by the divergence of teenage outlooks. ‘Since I arrived in London in 1994 I’ve always met people from different nationalities and backgrounds, but working on this project it was so interesting to see how teenagers are so different, and interesting’. But where Tim Yip saw an element of hesitation and concern for the future, Mei Hui, it seems, saw a greater level of optimism. ‘They all have big dreams, and they all have different talent to show and discover, but they all need a chance and a moment to shine in a different way’.
With seven components all taking place here at Southbank Centre across China Changing, Cloud is a monumental project, allowing for many different interpretations. So what does Tim Yip hope those who come into contact with some, or indeed all of Cloud, will feel, learn or experience from their interaction with the project?
‘Firstly I hope that the audience will be able to feel the imagination of our inspirational team of artists. They can find a very special beauty from our work during the process. It is another way of seeing beauty together with sadness. Every work has been carefully distanced from the polishing effect of commerce. It comes more deeply to the contents of multi-angled reality’.
Mei-Hui Liu is in agreement in terms of the work of those behind the show coming to the fore in the end result. ‘It is a truly beautiful project, made from the passion and love of all the artists and designers’. But is it a project that can only be fully appreciated by those with a keen interest or background in fashion or design? ‘No, everyone should feel they are part of this; they are the inspiration and they can get inspired from the Cloud project. You can all find beauty in it somewhere, and take this beautiful memory with you to keep creating your own dream.’