Happy objects is an Australian Design Centre exhibition exploring the value of objects in our lives. We asked William Yang to share with us a 'happy object' and tell us a story about this object.
My happy object is a broken tile from the Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. I found it on my first visit to China in 1989. This visit was the culmination of a process where I claimed my Chinese Heritage. I was born in Australia, and had been brought up as an assimilated Australian, with the Chinese side denied and unacknowledged. In 1983 I claimed my Chinese heritage, researched my family story and the history of the Chinese in Australia and the last step in that process was to visit China.
I love China’s ancient history and one of my favourite places to visit was the Temple of Heaven. It’s situated in spacious grounds on an axis which connects it to the Imperial Palace. Each year the Emperor would visit the Temple to converse with the deities and to perform rituals to ensure a good harvest. The Temple itself is quite beautiful with distinctive dark blue, roof tiles. I found a broken tile on the ground and brought it home with me. It sits on my Taoist altar, and represents my own piece of heaven.
William Yang is a prolific photographer, visual artist and writer based in Sydney. His stories describe the experience of coming to terms with his identity as a gay Chinese Australian. His work is held in many national and international collections.