Hong Cong - Sharyn Wortman

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London View Inspiration Details

Artist Statement

Sharyn Wortman

When I discovered the Jade Cong in the Asia Gallery at the V&A, it instantly reminded me of the high rise buildings I’d recently seen in Hong Kong. Both were tall, thin and seemed to defy gravity.

The Jade Cong also reminded me of the game, Jenga®. The faceted layers of jade resembled the different layers of interchangeable blocks that I used to play with as a child.

As our world population continues to grow and demand for living accommodation increases, cramped cities like Hong Kong have little choice to but to grow skywards.

Is man meant to reside 425 meters up in the air? If you look at the latest batch of Super Tall towers that are being built, the developers would have you believe that it’s perfectly possible.

I don’t believe humans should live so far off the ground so I invented a game of ceramic Jenga® called Hong Cong. Each interchangeable block is an apartment. By taking out the loosest block below and placing it on the top, we play the game until the tower is no longer self-supporting and comes crashing to the ground.

Gaps in my tower represent the empty residences bought purely for investment. This kind of ownership does nothing to solve the housing shortages in an overpopulated city.

I built my piece out of stoneware clay and decorated it with monochromatic clay slip.

The layers of texture resemble the grime that build up on these buildings over time. Abstract detailing hints at windows, awnings, security bars and air conditioning units.

The finished piece is a similar size to the actual Jade Cong although it grows taller as the game plays.

Hong Cong was completed with the support of my lecturers and technicians at the RACC.

Hong Cong - Sharyn Wortman

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspiration details:

Cylinder (cong)

Jade tube

China (made)

ca. 2500 BC (made)

Unknown (production)

Nephrite jade, carved

V&A collection reference number(s):

2015 Exhibition Guide

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