Art and Social Action
: Public Sculpture in Contemporary China - Raising Civic Awareness

  • Yong Xie

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In this PhD by Publication I argue how my art practice actively contributes to raising civic awareness around issues of social concern in contemporary China.
By documenting in this thesis my conceptual and physical process, I hope to demonstrate that my work has made a significant contribution to how art, in a changing culture, can impact social norms, whilst simultaneously functioning as a credible (successful artwork).
Through analyzing three case studies of my projects from 2012-2018, I argue for their contribution to the field of public sculpture in China. The case studies will unpack the research process and highlight the aspects of the work that challenge conventions in public sculpture in China. They will also draw out the impact of the work with audiences, particularly how media engagement has extended the discourse around the sculptures, disseminating my ideas to a wider public.
I aim to achieve this:
By contextualizing my sculpture practice and detailing my working methodology in three case studies of major projects. Some emphasis has been given to the impact of the work through various media channels and interviews, some emphasis to innovative strategy and cross-sector uses of knowledge.
This research demonstrates that art can be a powerful vehicle to communicate and interact with the public on subjects that are difficult and complex in China. My aim, is at a minimum, to raise social awareness and spark debate in as wide an audience as possible. Ideally I would want to see the artworks impact on social change and contribute meaningfully to creating a respectful society.
Date of AwardFeb 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRalf Sander (Supervisor) & Paul Seawright (Supervisor)


  • Public sculpture
  • China
  • Civic awareness
  • Social activism

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