Rich in personality and observational detail, Dai Li’s delicately hand built and painted stoneware figures are exquisitely crafted from her imagination. As she says, “My art works are about the relationships between people, animals and objects in everyday life. Moments of activity, moments of contemplation or unguarded moments when no one is watching; these are the moments when people can reveal their true nature. I intend for my artworks to have a sense of ambiguity as to a story or meaning. This ambiguity leaves the viewer responsible to interpret and create meaning for him or herself from the artwork.” Dai Li’s technical process involves hand building each piece with white stoneware clay, creating the initial form before including the various gestural details. Using a combination of Chinese wooden tools along with her own hand made bamboo tools, Dai Li carves the delicate details in the expressions and clothing before further enhancing with colourful pigments and glazes. As a result, her works exude distinct personalities that engage with the viewer in very personal ways, at times transporting us to a distant memory or feeling. This sense of familiarity is what makes Dai Li’s work’s particularly appealing and reflective, with art writers Kylie Johnson and Tiffany Johnson contending that it is “this exchange between maker and observer, be it cheeky or melancholic, is Dai Li’s ceramic magic”.
Dai Li was born in Sichuan, China and now lives and works in Queensland. From 2005 to 2009, she attended the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China and, shortly after graduating, came to Australia. She has been exhibiting regularly since her move to Australia and she has been a finalist in the Biennial North Queensland Ceramic Award in 2016 and the Tom Bass Prize for Figurative Sculpture. Dai Li’s work is included in the 2023 exhibition ‘Clay: Collected Ceramics’ at the Museum of Brisbane and she is also one of the featured ceramicists in the book ‘Earth & Fire’ by Kylie Johnson and Tiffany Johnson.