Interview: Wei Lun Ha

Artists Alliance caught up with Wei Lun Ha, a current mentee of the Artists Alliance Mentoring Programme. Recently returned from a residency in Vermont, USA, Wei Lun has been keeping busy developing his art practice and rolling out projects.

Wei Lun was not a typical Artists Alliance mentee applicant. A Chinese New Zealander, he studied architecture at the University of Auckland and now teaches in the construction department of the Otago Polytechnic here in Auckland. Despite not being formally trained in a fine arts institution, Wei Lun has exhibited his art widely and won several awards including the Estuary Art Award in 2014. Most recently, he was awarded the Wallace Arts Vermont Award in 2016 which saw him completing a three month residency at the Vermont Studio Center in the United States.

In need of some well-informed direction, Wei Lun applied to Artists Alliance’s Mentoring Programme in hopes of finding someone who can recognize his position in his art career and provide advice on how to take things further.

Wei Lun was paired with Richard Maloy, an influential New Zealand artist who has been part of the judging process for the past two Wallace Art Awards, including the year Wei Lun won his residency. Being mentored by an artist who also judged his work was influential to the mentoring relationship, says Wei Lun. “I got to understand the judging process a bit more and also know some critical things that are important to develop my body of work.”

The development of his work carried on during his time at Vermont Studio Center, where he experimented with layering his traditional Chinese ink paintings into three-dimensional installations. When asked how he prepared himself for his first overseas artist residency, “Truthfully, I didn’t!” He said, “I didn’t know what to expect”. The residency was more of a self-directed based programme as Wei Lun was the only resident staying for a three month period, while another 60 artists came and went every two or three weeks. The different artists visiting the Vermont residency provided continual feedback on his work and Wei Lun took the opportunity to rapidly progress his art practice. “I made a whole new body of work at every opening,” he explained, “and tried to my best to get the most out of the time there.” As part of the residency, Wei Lun also did some traveling to New York and Montreal, Canada, where he visited museums and galleries. He remarked about his experience, “I felt like this trip has opened my eyes to the world.”

The past year has been busy for both Wei Lun and his mentor, and with each completing overseas residencies around the same time, the mentoring process has been very relaxed. Some topics discussed during their meet-ups have been about understanding the art market, including the different possibilities galleries and art fairs have to offer. Overall, with the guidance from his mentor and an array of opportunities that have sprung up recently, Wei Lun feels he is on the right track in reaching his goals this year.

You can find more information about Wei Lun on his blog: http://weilunha.blogspot.co.nz/

Or you can follow him on Instagram

Applications are open for our 2018 Mentoring Programme – apply now!