Media Release: Chinese Restaurant Playground
June 13, 2024

Media Release: Chinese Restaurant Playground

Media Release

A visual arts exhibition by Steffie Yee 余淑婷
A nostalgic look back at childhood memories within her parents’ Chinese restaurant 
12 June—15 September 2024, Footscray Community Arts 

Footscray Community Arts presents Chinese Restaurant Playgroundby 2023 Artist-in-Residence Steffie Yee 余淑婷. On display from 12 June—15 September, Chinese Restaurant Playground is an evocative exhibition about childhood, imaginative play, and finding joy within the frenetic settings of her parents’ family business.
“Having served four generations of customers for over 40 years, my parents’ Chinese restaurant, Yee’s, was the backdrop of my childhood,” says Yee.
“From rollerblading on the tiles through the restaurant, using pot lids as cymbals, making play dough from spring roll pastry batter, and riding a motorbike in the yard behind the restaurant, this exhibition is an artistic documentation of my memories as a child of Malaysian-Chinese restaurant owners in Branxton.”
The exhibition presents a multimedia collection of finished works, and works in progress, exploring Yee’s experience growing up in the regional NSW town of Branxton. Through multilingual animations, videos, illustrations and photographs, Yee seeks to humanise the people behind the ‘local Chinese restaurant’, whose stories risk being lost due to language barriers and a long record of cultural history that predominantly spotlights Anglo-Celtic and European migration – particularly in regional Australian narratives.

Courtesy the Artist

Chinese Restaurant Playground captures themes of nostalgia, family, food, language, and community. It showcases a collation of material and an angle of Hunter Valley history that is rarely represented
“Your classic Aussie-Chinese restaurant is likely to disappear in the next decade or two,” says Yee. “As the story goes; the parents migrate to a new country and do the hard yards in the restaurant, so their children can pursue a less laborious form of work in the future. These restaurants are a symbol for survival, resilience, and hope for Chinese migrants who settled in this country.”
This exhibition is the outcome of a 4 month residency within the historic Henderson House studios, where Steffie Yee 余淑婷 was able to elevate her artistic practice and embark on new creative endeavours.
Beyond her personal art practice, Steffie works in animation as a freelancer and has created work for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Warner Music, PinkPantheress, Sam Smith, Justin Bieber, Chinatown Sydney, and more.
Footscray Community Arts provides platforms for communities whose stories and experiences are underrepresented in the arts and cultural sectors. Chinese Restaurant Playground seeks to humanise the people behind the local Chinese restaurant, whose stories might be lost due to language barriers and a long record of cultural history that predominantly spotlights Anglo-Celtic and European migration – particularly in regional Australian narratives.

Courtesy the Artist

Steffie Yee 余淑婷 is an animation director and illustrator, whose work weaves together digital and mixed-media processes involving stop-motion, 2D & 3D animation. With a background in music, her animation style is driven by the synergy between sound and image. In addition to creating animation for music, film, TV, and commercials, Steffie’s work has appeared in the forms of illustration, public art installation, and live visual installation for events.

Born and raised in the Hunter Valley in NSW (Wonnarua Country), Steffie draws creative inspiration from her unique upbringing in regional Australia and her Malaysian-Chinese heritage.

Steffie’s work has screened internationally at the Atlanta Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, and Palm Springs ShortFest, where her strata cut animated film The Lost Sound (2018) received two nominations for Best Animated Short and Best Animated Student Short. In 2023, her work screened at the TEDxSydney Youth conference which celebrates the ideas and work of young creators. In the online space, Steffie’s work has earned features on Vimeo Staff Picks, Motionographer, and BOOOOOOOM TV.

13 Years, Steffie Yee, animation

Presented by Footscray Community Arts with support from the Australian Film Television and Radio School

Exhibition Dates: 12 June—15 September 2024
Launch Date: 29 June 2024, 2—4pm
Location: Roslyn Smorgan Gallery, Footscray Community Arts, 
45 Moreland Street Footscray

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Michaela Hall  – 0419 113 633 / michaela.hall@bigpond.com

Images can be found here