As part of my 9-month art journey this year, I am spending the first month in China.
My link with China began 30 odd years ago when I started learning tai chi and looking into Daoism. But it had never really crossed my mind to travel there. Then in 2007, I received a commission for the JW Marriott Hotel, Beijing. I followed this up with a six-week artist residency in Fei Jia Cun, an art village on the outskirts of Beijing. The artist villages in China are amazing! Imagine a community made up predominantly of artists, the studios generally take up the ground floor of a two storey space, bedroom traditionally upstairs. Kitchen, bathroom and studio downstairs. The atmosphere is supportive, with neighbouring artists visiting each other, discussing ideas for their work and meeting for drinks and openings. The energy is at once open and enthusiastic; a genuine curiosity to explore new mediums and different techniques.
2008 came with an invitation to exhibit at the Australian Embassy in Bejing, opened by the acting Ambassador Dr Geoff Raby and Bill Shorten. 2009/10/11 saw more exhibitions including a collaboration with fashion designers for the World Expo, along with travel across the Gobi desert, climbing sacred Taoist mountains and journeying along the silk road to Dunhuang which has the world’s largest collection of Buddhist cave paintings. This inspired new works, using mediums such as Xuan paper, ink; even tea and black coal entered the work. The materials implicit to the culture were being embedded into my compositions.
In 2013, I was in Songzhuang Art Village for a couple of months and now here I am again, but this time, to exhibit a selection of works spanning 12 years and to stay on for a one month artist residency in 318 International Art Village, Beijing. The studio space is amazing. As an artist, it is such a wonderful experience to be able to travel and live in new surrounds, to immerse myself in a completely different culture and see with new eyes. Very inspiring, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
I only arrived Tuesday afternoon and the opening was on Saturday in April and the exhibition will continue for one month. A slight glitch as my tube of drawings decided to stay on an extra day or so in Singapore. However, Nikolaus Elrodt, the curator took it all in his stride and everything was ready on time. Maree Ringland, the cultural attaché opened the show. We started at 3pm and finished the night dancing ‘til 2am.
The next day, I have time to rest and reflect and find myself wondering how my next body of work will evolve. Despite the pollution, hay fever, traffic and trials with internet, it’s great to be back in Beijing.
Next stop Malta!
To find out more about Dawn, you can visit, http://dawncsutoros.com