A three-dimensional glazed ceramic portrait of Dr John Yu made by the artist Ah Xian in 2004.

This is a close to life size ceramic bust, cropped at the upper chest and arms. It is glazed a pale green with a high sheen. John Yu has his eyes closed and an air of calm pervades his expression. Five small childlike figures clamber over and around him, pressing close, gazing at him or each other. They are dressed in patterned traditional Chinese trousers and shirts in bright contrasting colours and have broad black flat shoes. Unlike the glossy sheen on John Yu the children have matt faces and hands, only their clothes have a shiny finish.

John’s hair is subtly indicated by mottling of the glaze on the top of his head and streaks of deeper colour at the back. His forehead is high and his eyebrows arch gently. His eyes are closed, his expression calm, underscored by the lack of lines around his eyes. He has a broad nose, rounded and flared at the end with deep lines extending diagonally from either side of his nose to the outer edge of his straight but full lipped mouth. He has large ears that sit close to his head.

Subtle differences in colour tone emphasize the contours of John’s face with pooling of deeper colour in the folds of his ears and around the mouth, in the folds of loose skin of his neck, and again at the base of the neck and around his collar bones.

The five child figures have pale faces with their black hair pulled back into either one or two topknots high on their head. They have small dark almond shaped eyes with an intense focussed gaze. They are dressed similarly but each has a colour combination of contrasting top and bottom that is uniquely its own. Each of the children is very physically connected to John with large areas of their bodies closely touching him.

One figure balances on his right ear with its right leg raised and arms stretching up towards the top of John’s head. Another straddles his right shoulder, tummy pressed along its length, arms and legs akimbo, reaching towards John’s neck. A glimpse of bare bottom is displayed by traditional split pants. There are two more children behind and at the base of his left shoulder, one crouched side on near his armpit with its body pressed against his back, its left arm crossing its body to stabilise its position. His split pants reveal the rounded cheeks of a bare bottom. Another child stands on the bent back of the crouching child, left leg raised to gain purchase and arms stretching up over John’s shoulder. The fifth and final small figure stands at the front of John, on his left hand side, its feet on tip toe, raised arms reaching up on either side of its head. It gazes up at the figure appearing over John’s shoulder.

Audio description written by Krysia Kitch and voiced by Emma Bedford