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Last week – last day

(Written by Marlies)

Time is flying by; last week was rollercoaster of experiences. Giving three lectures, visit universities, a visit from a Dutch delegation from Overijssel and meeting with friends. And today it was my last day in China, tomorrow I will fly back and start the normal live in Enschede again. It has been an amazing adventure. Down below some pictures of the last week.

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Empty bottle

(Written by Marlies)

A house built by old car tires, empty bottles (mainly beer bottles) and stones/ elements from old buildings. This is what we encountered when we arrived at the house of master (this is how he is called by the most people I speak to) Yu Zhenli. Mr. Qu Zhen Wei (culture Journalist) who attended my opening thought his and my artwork had similarities and wanted us to meet each other. Master Yu Zhenli is a famous artist from Dalian, he started as a realistic painter but changed through time to more abstract painting and later on he started to build his own house and surrounding with waste materials. Mr. Cheng Liang drove Vivian, Zhang Bin, Ye Hongtu and me to his house on the Big Black Mountain. There we would meet Master Yu Zhenli and the mr. Qu Zhen Wei.

The day could not have been better. A clear en clean blue sky with sunshine presented itself. So all the colors were very vibrant. Mr. Yu started building his house from an old house which was already there, during many years he changed and added elements to the house. He created walls with left over stones and pieces of … Read More »

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Lecture at the Dalian University

(Written by Marlies)

I was invited by mr. Shi Feng to give a lecture about my work at the Dalian University. The university is in the area of the Big Black mountain where we earlier visited the Dalian art college. After a quick (very quick) tour through the university we went to the office of mr. Shi Feng to have some tea and talk a bit. Mr. Shi gave me some books about his works and a very special Chinese tea. After drinking tea it was time for the lecture.

About 150 students were attending the event. Vivian had the great responsibility to translate. I spoke about my artworks and in what way my work is conceptual. Because the concept of installation art is not very common in China I also wanted to talk about the concept installations and the importance of the surroundings to my work. Afterwards the students could asked questions. They were very interested in the reasons why I make art and why I make art in this way.

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Still in China

(written by Marlies)

A week has gone by since the opening of my exhibition and Ella went back home. And it has been a different world since. The studio is empty, no Ella no works. But it is also good to have some time on my own and experience China in another way. Some days, when I don’t have an appointment with someone, I realise that I don’t speak that much. Even when I do go out. For example when I go to the supermarket, I mostly use hand signs to communicate and my eyes to find my way. In rare occasions someone speaks english, but most times a conversation contains a lot of nodding, smiling and saying thank you in Chinese. It must be strange to not be able to speak at all.

Last Thursday Dan from the magazine ‘Focus on Dalian’ came by the studio together with a photographer. They came to look at my installation and to have an interview. In this case it was the other way around with the language, Dan could speak English (he is from GB) and the photographer could not. It was nice to be able to talk about my work directly to a … Read More »

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Opening day

(Written by Marlies)

After 4 weeks it is finally time for the opening day. Yesterday I installed my work at the museum. To actually bring your works into the museum makes me feel more connected to it. Although we lived in the museum for several weeks, the museum itself was still a visiting place.

The invitation was mostly send by WeChat. This is kind of the Facebook of China. But functions also quite wel as a digital business card. The invitation is accompanied by music, so when you open the messages the music starts. Because it is not possible to send the invitation through other media I put it below in screenshots and a link to the website of the Zhongshan Art Museum.

 

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Processing

(Written by Marlies)

The numbers are growing. The re-used-plastic-tree-like objects are filling the studio floor. Ella and I developed a pattern in the food we eat, and this reflects a little bit in the colors of the installation. Though it is not that obvious yet, so I am curious what it will look like in the end. Creating the installation is a process. Not only in a conceptual way, but also literally. There are a few steps that repeat themselves: cutting, forming, wrapping, more wrapping, cleaning plastic, collecting stones, cleaning stones, glueing stones and then all over again. And although it sounds boring, it is far from that. Every day I start the process happily again, just to see the installation getting more and more complete. And each tree-like object that I make is different from the others. In our daily rhythm there are also some repeating elements. Because you can’t drink the water from the tap, we have to get water from the store several times a week and every time we want to use ‘normal’ water we have to boil it. I have to remind myself twice a day that the act of brushing my teeth does not include … Read More »

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Dalian art world taking us by surprise

(Written by Ella)

Last Friday and Saturday were a total surprise, we managed to fit 2 museum openings as part of The Watercolour Season in Dalian and 3 gallery visits in 2 days. The first was the opening of the Australian Watercolour exhibition in Dalian Art Museum where we met (and made) new friends, both from China and Australia. It was nice to visit the museum we have heard so much about, located in a beautiful old building nearby the ‘Russian’ part of Dalian, and to see the works of the Australian artists in real life.

That same evening Marlies and I were invited to a private launch party of the Foreign Artists in Dalian Exhibition with works by photographer Matteo Bellemo from Italy, photographer Dan Jones from Wales (and director of the bimonthly magazine Focus on Dalian), illustrator Richard Hughes from England and painter Sofya Shafto from Russia. The exhibition was held in an old factory building and it was buzzing with a crowd with people from all over the world. There were bands and musicians playing, accompanied with beautiful performances by belly dancers. In the same building there are also studio spaces and a photography gallery, which we will visit … Read More »

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A little breakthrough

(Written by Ella)

Yesterday I felt like I had a little breakthrough, like a small part of the Dalian mystery unfolded itself, giving me new energy, hope and expectations of understanding the structures of the art world in Dalian. All the experiences combined together feel like little pieces of a puzzle which are slowly presenting themselves. Some puzzle pieces are straightforward by visiting museums, interviewing representatives and experiencing the running exhibitions. Some pieces are hidden during formal and informal dinner conversations with museum directors, curators, artists, professors and their friends. Other pieces present themselves by exploring the many different faces of the city and by careful observation. And others are plain surprises like we had yesterday during our visit to the College of Art and Architecture at Dalian University of Technology.

Mr. Cheng Liang from the Zhongshan Art Museum arranged a meeting for us with Mr. Zhang Bin and Mr. Ye Hongtu, both professors at the University. They gave us a private tour of the campus and the various Art and Architecture departments: Ceramics Studio, Modern Art Studio, Laboratory of Digital Art, Light & Color Art, Visual Art, Digital Photography and Paper Art and the exhibition space where the students showcase their … Read More »

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Museum day at Xinghai square

(written by Ella and Marlies)

The last time we went to the city with Vivian we found out that bus nr. 404 is going from our ‘home’ to a shopping mall near the Xinghai square. We decided to visit a couple museums surrounding the square. So we took bus nr. 404 to the Dalian museum. The museum is a big modern building with a dome on the roof and a big plaza in front of it. A big locomotive on this plaza is an eye catcher whenever you pass the museum. We first thought the museum would contain contemporary art, but we soon found out that it was more about the history of Dalian. We started at the second floor, where we could follow a path through the history of the city. We could only look at the pictures, photo’s and objects, because everything was in Chinese, but nevertheless very interesting.

 
 

 
  

 

On the top floor there was an exhibition of ceramics showing all kinds of pots with beautiful colors and glaze. The pots were all made by one artist. The final exhibition we saw was on the first floor. This … Read More »

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So what about art?

(Written by Marlies)

Before I left the Netherlands, I tried to think about what I wanted to create during my stay in Dalian. I thought it would be good to have a concept beforehand because of the short amount of time I am able to make new work. Soon I realised that I was going to have so many new experiences and influences that it is impossible to stick to a pre-conceived concept. The basic concept I wanted to work with is a working with local materials that are used for every day use and make an installation, a ‘field’, covering the floor of the exhibition space.

What do you bring to an artist in residence when you have only a rough idea of what you will create? I figured that China has shops too, so most of the materials I could buy on location. That left me with 3 tools: 2 pliers and 1 pair of good scissors.

In the work I am creating at the moment, several different elements of my experiences here in Dalian flow together. Three totally different elements as it is: disciplinary precision, total chaos and elegance. Every morning when we wake up, the children of the school … Read More »

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