About Threaded Stories

Threaded Stories document the coming together of Sydney’s Chinese community with  contemporary artist Liyen Chong in a hair embroidery workshop. This project is realised in partnership with the Chinese Heritage Association of Australia and the Chinese Women’s Association, Sydney.

Sydney has a long-standing history of Chinese migration from various Asian countries which constitutes one of the largest cultural groups of Australia’s population. Chinatown is the heart of Chinese culture embodying stories, traditions, and expression of the community.

For an approximate period of 3 months, workshop participants were taught how to embroider using hair. The workshop looks at the act of collective embroidering as an approach to investigate the cultural and social relationships and the shared history of Chinese community in Sydney, in turn, it also highlights the importance of community bonding through a focus on expressing personal histories and creating shared experiences.

The Artist

Liyen Chong was born in Malaysia of Chinese heritage and migrated to New Zealand in 1995. Chong’s interest in the multilayered notion of translation, cultural symbolism, tradition, history, and attachment are embedded within her practice of incorporating her own and other people’s hair. The technique of hair embroidery is an ancient Chinese art from the Tang Dynasty to embroider religious scenes or the image of Buddha. Human hair was also used by the Victorians for mourning jewelery as well as hair jewelery to commemorate engagements and weddings. Liyen believes it is worthwhile for her to conduct this investigation into expressing both a personal and collective sense of history as well as collaborative methods of working in a particular time, place and with a particular group of people.

Liyen Chong is represented by Martin Browne Fine Art in Sydney, Australia and Page Blackie Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand.

4A Chinatown Mapping Project is a series of community projects aimed at developing lasting and evolving links with local community groups whilst also exploring different ways in which artists might try to imagine Chinatown’s locality. 4A values productive partnerships between artists, organisations, and the community as the key ingredient to promoting contemporary Asian cultural thinking and cultural diversity in the arts.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is an initiative of the Asian Australian Artists’ Association Inc. Since 1996, 4A has operated as a not for profit organisation committed to promoting contemporary Asian art in Australia. 4A is dedicated to exploring the artistic dialogue that has evolved as Australia’s cultural, political and economic relationships with Asia become more dynamic and vital. 4A provides an inclusive environment for contemporary artists to investigate Australia’s place within the region.

THREADED STORIES is supported by

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  • 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and artist, Liyen Chong, developed an embroidery project where participants from the Chinese Heritage Association and the Chinese Women's Association of Sydney come together to create embroidered pieces using their own hair. Threaded Stories is an investigation into personal memories and histories, and the communal bonds amongst women in Sydney’s communities.


  • THREADED STORIES is supported by
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