8. Colours / Asia

joannalayla qing


joannalayla red ‘Red’

joannalayla yellow ‘Yellow’

joannalayla white ‘White’

joannalayla black ‘Black’

joannalayla chinese triangle code

‘Qing’ / ‘Red’ / ‘Yellow’ / ‘White’ / ‘Black’ / ‘Chinese Colour Theory’

Red Is For… Series

Created specially for the COLOURS Bristol Exhibition 2013

The ‘Red Is For…’ Series explores Chinese colour theory through 5 illustrations and 1 colour code. Chinese colour theory is based on five key colours that correspond to states of being / emotions / seasons / meanings. A prism of colour in each illustration guides, questions and provokes a reading of the image – a cultural colour reading playing with how we understand the use of colour in an illustration to derive meaning.
© joanna layla 2013
joannalayla alms
joannalayla paper plane ‘paper plane’
joannalayla toy
joannalayla rice
joannalayla garment
joanna layla scaffold


alms | toy | paper plane | garment | rice | scaffold

Hanging by a Thread (Series)

(pencil, gold leaf)


I created this print series in dialogue with a large 2.5 dimensional piece of my work called ‘man | made | support’. Through material and structure ‘man | made | support’ plays out the simultaneous strength and fragility of man made support to divine structures visible throughout China and South East Asia.

The prints play with the strength and fragility of man made supports within society.

The title of the series is inspired by an article on the tensions between China and Cambodia following increased awareness of the conditions suffered by Cambodian workers in Chinese factories.

Having recently lived in both countries I wanted to create a series of drawings that hang in the balance of both societies – playing with the concepts of modern man-made (objects), traditional man made structures and the more traditional support structures support between men in society.

The drawings gesture to each other. A power-play between prints.

The precious gold leaf highlighting the object and the dynamic.

Alms. A Cambodian nun (on the eve of the funeral of the king of Cambodia) begging alms from a Chinese stall holder in Phnom Penh. The alms – a new pair of sandals. The structure so integral to society, Buddhism.

Toy. A Chinese toymaker in a Chinese factory producing the toys that will be exported to the west. Chinese factory conditions. Made in China.

Paper Plane. Old Chinese man in Dali, Yunnan Province. I was recovering from illness, drawing on a street bench in the gentle sunshine. He picked up a discarded newspaper and made me an intricate paper plane. It flew through the air to me. Man made craft. “What an elder sees sitting, the young cannot see standing.”

Garment. A Cambodian worker in a Chinese factory. A new imperialism. Garment. Made in Cambodia. Hanging by a thread.

Rice. One of the only mentally ill homeless people I met in China. A handful of sticky rice three times a day. A woman in tribal died blue delivered these fist-sized support structures to the vulnerable in her village. Support structures within communities.

Scaffold. In Cambodia the traditional belief that the gods reside in stone and humans in wood (permeable temporary structures). Yet today the divine structures – such as the Angkorian stones – are only held in place by man made scaffold. Bamboo scaffold. Strong. Man Made Support.

‘Hanging by a Thread’ print series

Giclée print series from original drawings | each design in a limited edition of 25 | each hand-finished with gold leaf

© joanna layla 2013

You will be able to see me talk about the work in conversation with the curators of the exhibition in this short film…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s