A Beijing Summer
Good morning/afternoon or evening to you all. I trust you are well and had a good summer?
Things here have been moving at a dizzying pace and returning to Macau for the start of the new academic year, well, let’s say I’ve never been more excited to get back to those normal routines of ours.
Somewhere in that 6 week semi-grand tour of Europe and Asia we found an anchor in the form of the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing for our August creative fest.
An art residency is an indulgent but superb way to just settle down and get on with it.
And we both did, creating more artwork in a month than we had done over the last year.
We were holed up in the far north-eastern corner of Beijing, right on the edge of the tube line and tucked away down a dust track village.
Bam, we were right back in the middle of nowhere China and living in a huge former factory space amongst other artists. As usual, air conditioning was infrequent, the water supply inconsistently sketchy and my Husband got us into many Chinese scrapes where he would jab his phone to my ear and through rapid fire Mandarin I would have to deduce that he had again been secretly shopping online and I was having to deal with the pickles he got himself into.
We’d done this for a whole year before, so one month back in the fray of things felt like a battle we could deal with.
We created art work, looked at art work, visited the art districts, went to other artist’s studios, met other artists and sourced our art supplies from the art universities and markets. It was full on. And glorious.
I scurried around and found out my supplies that are so important to me, my Chinese natural indigo, my Chinese silk fabric and my handwoven Chinese ramie cloth. I collected up some local vegetables from the market and got natural dyeing.
Pausing for a moment to pinch myself and remember that this is real local stuff and my local is China.
Sometimes it’s a bit unnerving to acknowledge that I’m so far from home, but getting stuck in with the process means that where ever I am it always feels so right when I’m dyeing, preparing, or sewing.
Not to let a good chance pass us by though, we also lingered in the well-known art haunts of Beijing, and the less well known ones. And we finished off with the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, as you do.
Beijing, you are our favourite spot in China so far, you have the history, the culture, the art, the food. You are the China we left the UK to find (it’s only taken us two years!).
So all this inspiration and work done during our Red Gate Gallery residency means that I’m brimming with textile ideas and am dyeing and sewing at a feverish pace in preparation for “Thread” a festival of textiles, Saturday September 24th 09:00-18:00. Tickets are on sale now, and I’m in the process of packing my suitcase ready to leave for the UK again in a couple of weeks.
Looking forward to seeing you there, where I can talk until the cows come home about those handmade Chinese inspired textiles of mine.