Spring snow

April 28, 2010

grass, earth and flowers

I went out drawing today.

While I was walking the dog, I saw this cherry tree. The striking thing was how the blossoms had fallen on the ground. They have woven with the spouting grass and the muddy earth, decorating the ground like a luxury blanket. Yet it’s so gentle and fragile, like the first layer of snow that had just touched the ground- absolutely beautiful yet disappears with a blink of the eye.

so I took the dog home and rushed back with paints and brushes. I was too excited I felt restless like a balloon that was about to bust with all the energy inside.

As an artist, I am always looking for colours. Right in front of me, I found one of the best examples. There were so many colours in just a palm sized ground, or even just on a blossom petal. I was over whelmed with all the colours that I was lost for words. The colour of the earth, the grass, the blossoms and the passing beetle all sent little electric currents to my heart. Wind blowing; clouds passing; people chatting; dogs running; the only still things I could gasp were me and these marvelous wonders of nature. It felt like I was having an quiet and intimate conversation with them that only I could understand. Everything else blurred out of the pleasurable indulgence and satisfying solitude I enjoyed when I painted.

I ended up squatting more than three hours. By then I couldn’t hold the brushes properly because of the cold. finally I had to lay on the snow of spring flowers to relax my numbed legs and wondered whether those petals would melt away underneath me. Looking at the racing clouds above my head, I felt dizzy and drunk on my new found well-being.


Paint with style

It was a sunny day, so I decided to go out and paint. I wanted to feel proud and sexy so I hit the town with a Costume National dress, 120mm Alexander Wang heels and a Dior Lady bag. I sat in front of the fountain and pulled out my canvas. I loved the surprises on people’s faces. Of course, people expected an artist to be covered in paints and wear only rough clothes. Yet here I am, in fashionable stylish clothes but still a painter. While I was painting, suddenly the thought of those 18th century geographers came to me. They used to dig up rocks in the fields with they full length velvet gowns. Now they must be happy to find a fashion follower in the form of an artist after three centuries. Therefore I have decided to paint only in fantastic clothes from now on. It works out perfectly: I love painting and I love feeling good.

the painting - fountain

Leading fashion editors at the presentation of the collection

I saw an article praising Victoria Beckham’s new clothing collection in the Times. I couldn’t stop feeling the opposite.

It is ignorant to produce clothes which only flatter one type of body shape, these clothes are not made for real women. We aren’t all in the shape of a skinny chopstick. There are a variety of

the Cloud Dress, a favourite of the designer

types: a bumpy sweetcorn, a round apple, a bellied pear or an irregular potato – well maybe a sweet potato because it sounds better. However her clothes are fitted with corsets and of very tight fits, which means unless you have a tummy like a washboard, you are going to suffer in two ways: one, you can’t breathe, which is very restraining and uncomfortable; another, you can’t eat, because the worry of exposing your satisfied tummy after a meal.


Therefore I don’t think these clothes are of good design. Surely a good piece of clothing should compliment your look, showing your good assets and hiding the bad ones without appearing to have tried too hard. Good clothes should give you confidence, but it should not stop you from being yourself.

Another problem I have with the collection is how minimalist they are. It doesn’t matter how

The collection

many corsets are in them, they all look similar, conservative, and lacking imagination or charm. There are other ways of making a great outfit, such as a mixture of colours, interesting fabrics and professional tailoring: for pure fantasy look at Alexander McQueen; for brave statements think of Viviene Westwood or for great cuts go for Burberry.

There is an absence of skill in her collection. If she went back to college and learned more basic skills and techniques, I believe she has great potential. With fame, wealth and influence, she will have the world of fashion kneeling at her feet.

Jennifer Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore in the Beckham look

Even though I won’t be buying a piece of Mrs. Beckham’s just yet, I have learned a very valuable lesson from her. Despite being Mrs. Beckham, I respect her for kept her brand going even when the critics were skeptical at first. After three shows, she has finally started to crack the extreme fashion world. (images taken from The Times)

Good grief! We have grass-eating-sheep neighbours! God help us!!

I was reading interviews with a group of renowned intellectuals including poets, writers, critics, musicians, reporters and artists etc who live in a newly developed area of Shanghai. In the interviews they explained that there was a lack of culture in their living environment because there was not enough government support. I am very frustrated with their opinions.

First, let me give you a brief history of the area. Xinzhuang (Village of Xin) was a farming village at the south west of Shanghai,  after passing the Huangpu River .  In the old days, villagers had to spend a whole day to reach central Shanghai, so no one paid any attention to this ‘backward’ place.

Old Xinzhuang

However, with the sudden expansion of Shanghai in the early 1990’s, the social, economical and architectural landscape of the village underwent dramatic changes. By the early 21st century, new houses and flats were built on the farmland to accommodate the ever expanding workforce of Shanghai; service industries flourished while farming struggled; cheaper housing prices and a new underground line (which reaches central Shanghai in half an hour) meant new residents from both inside the city (people looking for a more spacious home) and outside (manual labourers). Unlike in the west, where the expansion of a city happens over a long period of time, China did it overnight. Suddenly intellectuals find they are neighbours with farming peasants from the village or factory workers who came from villages all over China in search of a better life.

Xinzhuang housing

The intellectuals who were interviewed hold the belief that Xinzhuang has no culture of its own. Even though they live there, they do not interact with anyone in the area because the lack of culture in their neighbourhood. I felt a strong sense of sorrow and grief at their failure to see the newly emerged society has a rich mixture of cultures which were brought in by every group of its residents. It is pure arrogance for them to isolate their culture from the less privileged peasants and factory workers.

Old houses in Xinzhuang

Throughout the interviews, all the intellectuals seemed to call on the district government for cultural improvements to Xinzhang. I find this very hypocritical. These intellectuals are the best assets to inject, guide and unite the cultures of the area. But instead of trying something productive, they just simply push the responsibility to the government. Naively, one intellectual even suggests that the government should give 300 pounds to any young artist who plans to live there to attract new talent. But isn’t there plenty of intellectuals who live in the area already? Yet they have done absolute nothing for the community.

Let’s face the facts about China, how many impoverished familes coming from villages who are struggling for ends meet live in the community? Don’t they need more urgent

Xinzhuang Highway

support than some self imposed artist? Without a comfortable living standard, will people really care about art or culture? The government’s job is to improve the living standard for everyone in the area so they could one day have the privilege to appreciate culture.

Instead of blaming other residents or the government, why not take an initiative to work together and be the advocates of a new culture? Yes, culture needs time to grow and mature, but why not be the pioneers of this revolution.

The Chinese are a very curious race by nature, therefore, they will be drawn into anything that new and interesting, include culture. I have found this out through my own performance and sculpture exhibition in my hometown of Luoyang. Luoyang is a

People's Park, Xinzhuang (the biggest in Shanghai)

fast growing city just like Shanghai. When I staged my artworks around the public parks, I wasn’t sure how people would react (especially as it was on the coldest day of the year). However I got the most overwhelmingly intrigued audience I have ever seen to this date. People came from different backgrounds all eagerly engaged in the artwork and the discussions. Considering that this was only a spontaneous act, you can imagine just how much more you could have achieved with a bit more planning.

Exhibition in Luoyang

I find Xinzhuang a fascinating place right now. There you have all the ingredients of something new and exciting. Intellectuals can set up poetry workshops, art talks , classic readings etc all around public places. There are so many things you could do to

Xinzhuang's house planning

influence the population and lead a good local ‘cultural revolution’. Surely this will be much more productive than just complaining and hiding one’s head in the sand.

Had a terrible day on the phone with two BT Customer Service personnel. Yet by the time I finished this drawing while waiting on the phone for the third time, a sweet and gentle lady solved all my trouble with BT.