Living in Beijing

I’m very comfortable here and can move around easily and safely, my Chinese is hysterical (at least the Chinese think so)… Many of the new comers (little creative souls from all corners of the globe even seek out my advice (and seem to enjoy my company)

My book is being printed… I’ve actually started drawing and painting, which I blame my friend Brian Wallace for cos he’s offered me free accommodation out in the artist commune – north west of Beijing and there is nothing else to do, and there are great big white walls and piles of paper and oil paint and silence and its warmer in the fridge than in the studio……..

I had dinner in the village with the local ‘framer’ (an artisan – like the old days – respected as a master) and he ordered ‘dog’ (gou ruo) and it tastes a bit like corned beef but not ‘salty’… after someone fished the pad of the paw with a claw still attached from the hot pot bowl my interest in experimentation died completely.

This morning, off to Wangfujing (the main shopping street next to the Forbidden City) to meet with Zhang, the Chinese girl who’s studying at La Salle (Singapore). We did the MAPD marketing course together in Melbourne just before I left Australia and she’d like to do an exhibition of my work ‘for the Chinese’ … in Qingdao, so we’ll see what happens…

Tonight an exhibition opening here, at ‘Shangri-la”, a group show (east/west) with a bonfire (thank god) and African dancers / drummers (there are a lot of Africans in China)

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Freezing in Beijing

It’s freezing in Beijing… temp under 0 degrees at nights… I have invested in a large padded jacket which keeps me warm (at least the middle bit of me) during my evening walks to and from cocktails at the Australian Embassy…. everyone is excited about the potential outcomes of the election and planning to ‘celebrate’ on the 24th.

Today I leave my apartment at TuanJieHu and move across to the centre of the city…. I will be staying at the newly refurbished Wangfujing Hostel (where I am working with the owner to redecorate the bar and bedrooms with my photographic images)

On Sunday I am catching the night train to Shanghai…. SOPA has contracted me to conduct a feasibility study into hosting an exhibition of Chinese Cultural Revolution posters during the Beijing Olympics… So I’m having lunch with Mr Yang at the Propaganda Museum on Tuesday to negotiate the proposal and select the posters.

Then on Friday 9th I’m catching the fast train to Hong Kong and flying to Taiwan for a week, which should be interesting as the Chinese TV (CCTV) is televising heated debates about Taiwan’s ‘disruptive/disrespectful’ application to join the UN…. some veiled talk re: ‘of course we don’t plan any military action’…..

I then plan to travel back to Beijing via the coastal stone villages and have a look at a ‘different’ part of China.

This Saturday there is a big opening of a new contemporary art museum called UCCA, at the 798 Art District…. should be a busy day as I am also taking the final draft of my new book to the publishers there….

Changing Face, the Hutongs

Absolutely beautiful autumn day here in Beijing (I think they will be able to ‘do’ the Olympics) clear blue sky, crisp fresh air…. this is , of course due to the CPC – Chinese Peoples Congress – a five yearly meeting of thousands of delegates from all over China (many in traditional dress) – spectacular, powerful, impressive….

Spent yesterday wandering around the ‘Hutongs’ large white Chinese characters roughly painted on the walls…. demolish!

The Chinese are true ‘squatters’…. the paths between ruined houses have been swept, broken walls, bricked up, plastic sheets hang over smashed roofs… and the power has been rigged up again…. clean washing hangs to dry amid the rubble…

(Oh, and the people are angry…. pointing and shouting and asking me to take photos)

Settling into Tuanjiehue

I’ve settled into my apartment in Beijing its in an older undeveloped part of town called Tuanjiehu in Chaoyang district, the apartment is on the 4th floor of a Chinese block… there are little wooden stools and bicycles and hand made stick brooms on the landings… the lights are sound sensitive so you can hear as each person ‘stamps’ on the landings on the way up and down the concrete stairs.

Its sunny and light… overlooking a quite street lined with birch trees and providing passage for a steady stream of bicycles and carts and taxis, the sound of hawkers ‘calling’ or pedestrians laughing or the military marching drifts upwards…

I have everything a girl could need within walking distance… to the east at the end of the block a bank, across the road to Jingkelong Supermarket and a small local fresh food market, opposite a Chinese department store next to the post office… further to the north beside Chaoyang park, Jenny Lou’s for those that crave white bread, fresh milk and cheese, its shelves lined with comfortingly familiar international ‘brands’… to the west Beijing Roast Duck THE best Peking duck restaurant in China!

The 115 bus takes you to the circle line or line 5 subway stations or on towards the National Gallery, the 402 takes you north east to Factory 798 (the ‘contemporary’ arts precinct) the 420 to CAFA, the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, while the 43 takes you on a round about route southwards which eventually passes Red Gate Gallery and the Beijing Railway Station. (This of course was discovered after a little trial and error)

I’m being very well looked after by Brian Wallace from Red Gate Gallery, a welcome dinner on Thursday Night and Gallery opening on Friday… he is currently ‘hosting’ a dozen artists from across the world, so conversations are guaranteed to be lively.

Off to Factory 798 tomorrow, to have a look at Art Beijing 2007 – that should take most of the day cos there are literally hundreds of galleries and artist studios to visit…. then I’m going to buy some rice paper, ink and brushes, wood cutting tools and some nice soft wood (to carve)…