Fish Plate

Fish Plate

Fish Bowl

Butterfly Plate

Leaves Plate

Imaginary Scene

In 1960 critic Yoshiko Uchida described Win Ng in the pages of Craft Horizons as “one of the most versatile young craftsmen in the San Francisco area. A veritable dynamo of creative energy, he has successfully turned his hand to clay forms, enamels, metals, watercolors, oils, collages and fabric design, having at one time exhibited or won prizes in most of these media.”

The second son of Chinese immigrants Fook On Ng and Kow Yuan Ng, Winfred Ng was born in San Francisco in 1936. While attending junior high school between 1948 and 1950, he worked as a “clean up boy” in the studio of Jade Snow Wong. It was there that he developed his lifelong passion for ceramics and enameling. After completing high school in 1954, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served for two years in France. Upon completing his tour of duty in 1956, he returned to San Francisco and studied at San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University. In 1958 he studied ceramics at the California School of Fine Arts, where he was awarded his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1959. Later that year he pursued graduate studies in ceramics at Mills College in Oakland. A versatile artist working in both ceramics and enameling, Ng received national attention for his work at a remarkably early age. In 1957, when he was only twenty-one, an enamel bowl with fish motif was accepted for the prestigious Decorative Arts and Ceramics Exhibition at the Wichita Art Association. One of the jurors that year was the ceramist Antonio Prieto, with whom Ng later studied at Mills. Undoubtedly Prieto recognized great talent in the work of the promising young artist. Ng entered two enamels in the 1958 exhibition in Wichita and two examples of his ceramic sculpture in the 1959 show. He also submitted ceramic sculptures to the Wichita exhibitions in 1961 and 1962. He received national attention again in 1961, when he was awarded a purchase prize for his ceramic sculpture in the Twenty-first Ceramic National at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts.

In 1959 Ng and his life partner, Spaulding Taylor, started a design business that eventually became Taylor and Ng, a retail shop specializing in well-designed decorative arts and crafts. In the mid-1960s Ng developed and marketed a series of collections of enamels called Connoisseur’s Collection and Sampler’s Collection, which included items of various colors, sizes, and prices. Described as “completely hand crafted and individually formed,” these collections were sold at high-end department stores throughout the country. The pieces are signed and inscribed with a sequential numbering system like that used by his mentor Jade Snow Wong. A letter of the alphabet designated the shape and size, while a series of numbers represented the glaze. Ng’s earliest enamels, produced in the 1950s and early 1960s, are unlike these larger, more commercial collections. In each of these earlier pieces he used a unique approach to form. Some employ comical sgraffito drawing technique, while others have richly built-up, decorative surfaces.