25 January 2012
by Claire Farrell
The British Council recently awarded EC-Arts a grant to visit China as part of the Connections Through Culture Programme. Here Claire Farrell of EC-Arts shares her experience of the visit and the progress on the project:-
The purpose of the trip was to meet MCDecaux to identify potential billboards in Guangzhou and Shanghai to link with 48SHEET April 2012/13.
During the trip to China we also visited the Guangdong Museum of Art, Gaungzhou to meet with the museum Director Dr. Luo Yiping to discuss the 48SHEET project and the very exciting Fourth Guangzhou Triennial.
48SHEET will be the first international project to feature as part of the triennial. During our visit we were treated to a special tour of the wonderful museum building and a private view of the incredible Light and Shadow of Ink-Chinese Painting Exhibition by Chen Zhengming. EC-Arts were honoured to meet Dr. Luo Yiping, the Research & Curatorial Department and museum staff.
Next stop was Shanghai to identify potential billboards to utilise, they are very different in China than the traditional 48SHEET UK billboards. They are big mutlifaceted structures, sporadically spaced rather than clustered with a huge concentration on the freeway between the airport and city, as opposed to suburbs or arterial roads (below image).
Whilst in Shanghai we visited AIVA, Academy of International Visual Arts to meet with Dr Joshua Jiang Director of AIVA and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) who very kindly arranged most of our trip and Laura Leng, AIVA Dean. Claire Farrell, EC-Arts delivered a lecture to the students about EC-Arts and 48SHEET on behalf of BIAD.
It was a pleasure to meet the the very talented staff at the Academy, including Rachel Marsden a freelance curator, researcher and arts writer in the field of contemporary Chinese and South Asian art. Rachel is also a PhD Candidate (BIAD), and curatorial assistant to Dr Joshua Jiang and Jonathan Watkins as part of the Guanzhou Triennial. And Lisa Juen, Head of Jewellery at AIVA, a designer and artist who has recently launched the very exciting PROONK , and course leaders Edward Liao and Zhang Hong.
Whilst at AIVA we had the chance to look at the students work, all very impressive. In particular, Lao Zhen’s innovative work stood out, the Product Design student has created paper out of grapefruit rind for his pre-MA assessment. Lao Zhen explained that he was inspired by the Chinese tradition of paper making (an artform that is passed on from generation to generation) and the desire to create unique paper for calligraphy (Lao Zhens father is a calligraphist). Lao Zhen’s concept is very exciting with numerous possible directions to explore, we very much look forward to watching his progression. For more information about AiVA students work please visit Rachel Marsden words.
The highlight of the trip was meeting artist Xu Zhen (MadeIn Company). MadeIn artists’ collective was founded by Chinese artist Xu Zhen in Shanghai 2009. Xu Zhen is one of the most renowned conceptual artists to have emerged from China since the 1990s. We are absolutely delighted that MadeIn Company will produce work for 48SHEET to be exhibited across 30 billboards (of 100) in April 2012, co curated by Dr Joshua Jiang and Jonathan Watkins (Director of the Ikon Gallery) who are both also co curators of the Fourth Guangzhou Triennial.
During our trip to Guangzhou we also visited Guangzhou School for the blind and met with the Headmaster Mr Lau, Assistant Head Wendy Wangli and the schools very talented art teachers. We were amazed with the high standard of work produced by the pupils. Guangzhou School have had a longstanding successful partnership with Calthorpe School based in Birmingham; the two headmasters Mr Lau and Graham Hardy have nurtured several international projects between the schools since 2006. EC-Arts will work with the two schools on future projects involving regional artists within the context of visual art cultural exchange.
The trip was very successful and could not have happened without the support from The British Council; we were fortunate to see some amazing cities, meet some incredible people, artists, creatives and as a result we have been inspired to explore a number of concepts for potential projects in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing to link with Birmingham. Watch this space.