gellyvieve: Finding Freedom in Clay

Words by: Genevieve Ang and Tanya Singh
Photo Credit: Genevieve Ang and Natasha Liok

A toymaker pursuing the middle point between art and design, Genevieve Ang aka gellyvieve creates sculptures with personality and presence.


Falling in love with clay with eyes full of wonderment, an imagination that would not stay still, and a natural sense of creativity, gellyvieve's journey begins at the young age of 10. The hours she spent as a child bringing all her imaginary characters to life have now become a successful career. Leveraging her unique child-like artistic voice, gellyvieve is on a journey full of intriguing characters that have lived and passed, and countless others that are yet to come.

 gellyvieve_02gellyvieve in her studio in Singapore.

When and how did your love affair with clay begin?

It all started when I was 10. I was fortunate enough to have clay as an after-school activity. Even then, I remember always looking forward to Friday which was the day I was working with clay. Fast-forward to graduating from architecture school, I felt the need to work with something more tactile and found my mind returning to those invigorating memories of Friday afternoons in my childhood. 

gellyvieve_03Some shots from Vermillion's visit to gellyvieve's studio.

"Playing and Building Infinite Worlds" and personifying your creations seem to be recurring themes in your works. Could you talk to that?

Along with recalling my love for clay, it brought back a capsule of memory of how I was as a kid. Being one of those daydreamers who was always dazed, it was not hard for me then to personify elements of nature as something I could interact with. It helped me understand the world before I had the scientific knowledge. The child-like ignorance of the world meant I could imagine whatever I wanted and believed in anything I wanted the world to be. It was liberating.

We all know that we shed most of this slight madness as we understand, learn, and gain knowledge and that could be quite restrictive. Perhaps my work is a returning to the sense of being free again.

Speaking of personification, are these characters inspired by real-world counterparts?

Of course! All basis of what we can imagine stems from some part of the reality we have witnessed. It is no doubt that everything and everyone I encounter will influence me regardless of whether I remember them or not. 

gellyvieve_04Left to right: 'Heavy Cloud' and 'Marimo' by gellyvieve.

What is your new collection about? What characters do we get to meet?

It is about rocks and the different types of cultural implications it has. Exploring how we use the material, how clay is the result of millenniums of erosion of rocks, and how we humans turn them back into 'rocks' again.

Some of the characters include 'Heavy Cloud' who narrates the beginning of erosion through rain, to 'Marimo' who is inspired by algae moss that attaches itself to rocks in riverbeds.

What's next for gellyvieve?

I just came back from a trip from Kuala Lumpur, it looks like I will be taking over a garden and creating a landscape filled with different pieces. I am also looking forward to making more ceramic furniture! 

gellyvieve_05The Cloud Patina Light Sculpture is inspired by the form of clouds in eastern paintings.

What does Asian design mean to you and how do your works fit in?

I think Asian design means taking inspiration from familiar narratives. It is true that we are influenced by the west with certain things, especially growing up in a city like Singapore. Yet, there are still stories and experiences that are unique to being brought up in this part of the world. Not unlike Shintoism, which is an integral part of my practice, I found parallels in my own culture on the beliefs of supernatural entities inhabiting all things. I thought that was rather uncanny to how I saw the world as a child. My work perhaps is a light-hearted take on the steep history of Asian craft.