Seeking higher grounds
(Written by Maarten)
I’ve been enjoying walking in random directions from the museum and just to discover the place. I’m especially attracted to the nature and hills which are in abundance in Dalian. It’s been made very easy to climb these hills as I’ve discovered many times now because they’ve paved roads and have put little look-out constructions at the top. All these look-outs have been amazing but one stands out. It’s positioned right in the middle of Dalian and on one side you see the city center with its skyscrapers and shopping centers and on the other side you see the area where the museum is located, a more residential area with lot’s of nature and hills. I’ve made a little time-lapse which you can see below. It was a bit chilly waiting for about an hour, but so worth it. I’ve later learned that the sky is usually not this clear due to smog so I’m very happy to have climb the hill that particular day!
It’s amazing what technology is capable of nowadays. I’ve had multiple times now where I’ve met chinese people that do not speak a word of english, but with the help of translation apps we’ve been able to communicate properly which is very satisfying.
Mr Cheng, deputy director of the museum was kind enough to invited us for dinner. Together with Vivian, our guide from the museum, Tom Wang, a young painter who’s been on exchange to Enschede twice and is now studying in Antwerp at the moment, Zhang Bin, who is the artist who went on exchange to Enschede this year, and his girlfriend Keira. It was a joy to meet them again and exchange experiences about the netherlands and Dalian. Luckily Both Tom, Vivian and Keira speak English so it was very easy to communicate with everyone.
The location where we ate was quite interesting because instead of an open restaurant space with tables you enter what looks like a hotel lobby. Downstairs you order the food then you take the elevator up and receive your own little room. Funnily enough we were at the wrong floor first, based on what we saw, the higher up you go the more fancy it gets.
The food was amazing. On our table was a big rotating glass plate on which they served lots of different small dishes as well as a large pile of little pancakes. You could just create little wraps with whatever food you liked. Very fun way of eating. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures.
So quite often chinese pick english names, sometimes they chose a name themselves, sometimes in school the english teacher just randomly gives you an english name. Mr Cheng and Zhang Bin didn’t have English names so they tried to come up with one which was a very funny process. Cheng chose Jimmy (after jimmy Hendriks) and Zhang Bin chose (don) Vito, after his favorite character in the Godfather. They also tried to give us chinese names based on our full dutch names, but that proved to be rather difficult. In the end they said our names could also just be something we like or that matches our character.
They gave Willemijns the name Wei Xue Lian, which is a type of flower that grows high in the mountain in snowy areas. While they came up with Fan Feng for me. Fan sounds like ‘van’ and Feng means mountain. Silly, but fun!
We closed the evening in the studio of Tom, which is located near a zoo. From his studio you are looking at the zoo(I believe during daylight you could see a donkey and some giraffes!). His place is amazing and everything you’d wish for as a painter. His father, a painter too and director of a museum had some works in storage as well. It was a nice experience to see places like these. His neighbor owns the apartments. He is an artist as well in traditional chinese painting, but makes a living buying and selling old japanese items. His whole studio was decorated in a japanese style which was interesting to see the difference in culture. What stands out to me in all the interactions we’ve had so far how kind the Chinese are.
Inbetween all this I’ve continued to draw and paint and experiment a bit with film. We currently know our exhibition opening is at the 28th of October. I’ve come to realize how short a time 4 weeks is when you are exploring and doing all sort of stuff. But it’s probably also a good thing to feel this pressure and being forced to work quicker.
Till next time!