“Land Below The Wind”, Cheong Sung Kin’s title for his exhibition of ceramic sculptures and teapots, is taken from the title of a book written in 1939 by the American author Agnes Newton Keith. Cheong is from Sandakan and the book was written in the same town in Sabah (then known as North Borneo). Subsequently that title has been accepted as the unofficial descriptor for Sabah.
Keith wrote mainly about her domestic life as a colonial official’s wife and a little of her infrequent treks into the jungle. Cheong’s sculptures are of the landscapes and its inhabitants; from his own observations and the family’s backyard. He grew up surrounded by natural environments and indigenous cultures and peoples.
“Land Below The Wind” was written in a genial style and is still very readable today. But Cheong’s new collection of forest and mountain settings have been through a baptism of fire and come out the other side as exquisite and unique objects of art. Besides, there are not many artists like him today who use wood fire to fire their clayware.
“Land Below The Wind No. 1” is an imaginative and powerful use of clay to describe living in the middle of the rainforest and having to climb up and down the steps and negotiating the terrain daily. These are majestic trees with their crowns touching the clouds and the branches look like they are holding up the sky. This is not just art but the art of living with the forest.