In 2008 Beijing hosted the Olympics and Paralympics, four years later it was London’s turn. To celebrate each country hosted two festivals. In 2008 the UK played host to China Now, which showcased cultural and sporting events from the country. The events included China Design Now, an exhibition that took place at the V&A. The show explored new design in China, focusing on the effect that rapid economic development had on architecture and design in three major Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The exhibition focused on a wide range of design from architecture, including the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, to fashion. In 2012 the festival UK Now took place in China and included exhibitions of work by Tony Cragg and Rankin as well as tours from the English National Ballet. The two festivals enabled creative discussions across the two countries and different institutions as well as displaying the quality of each country’s contemporary art scene.
Today, a major exhibition New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio was touring in mainland China supported by the British Council. The exhibition, curated by Kate Goodwin, Head of Architecture and the Drue Heinz Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, features projects and design process from 20 years of Heatherwick Studio, capturing the studio’s spirit of discovery, demonstrating their imaginative and entrepreneurial approach to design.
I was often asked such a question in my twelve years working on China-UK cultural relations: Why does the UK spend all these money on culture and art in China – is it cultural colonization? An official answer could be that by connecting and creating international opportunities for the people in China and the UK, it builds mutual understanding. One can also understand it in this way: cultural exchange is a soft approach to build a trust, which then enables an easier dialogue in harder areas such as economy and diplomacy. A voice from the bottom of my heart sometimes would add: investment in culture is always good as long as it is grounded and can benefit or inspire individuals.
“Art is more to do with observation than invention.” Carefully teasing out the globally recognised yet the most easily ignored everyday objects with bright and arresting colour, the British artist Michael Craig-Martin has orchestrated a visual symphony of modern material life in his debut exhibition in China. Entitled Now, the touring exhibition marks the beginning of the ‘2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange’.
In the 20th century, “photobook” was produced as an effective media for recording history and reflecting the development of the history of photography. However only in the last decade there has been a major reappraisal of the role and status of the photobook within the history of photography. China boasts a fascinating history of photobook publishing, the oversea photographers and artists who have concerned about China have been studying on it for years, trying to light its historic position worldwide. Based on a collection compiled by British photographer Martin Parr and the Beijing-London-based Dutch photographer team WassinkLundgren, the Chinese Photobook illustrates the history of Chinese photobook making over a century vivid to the world for the first time, together with its country’s diversity, richness, and vigorousness. With the support of the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy, the Aperture Foundation and many other institutions, it has been presented in Arles, New York, Beijing and London successively. Besides, a book of the same titled has also been published in 2015 by Aperture and the China Photographic Publishing House.
Art critic, lecturer, curator, chief editor, founder of tomarts.cn, gallerist – for more than a decade, Pi Li has remained extremely active in the world of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he was appointed senior curator of M+ Hong Kong, and has ever since become responsible for managing and researching in the formidable collection of Chinese contemporary art of the museum. From a highly educated elite fresh out from the world of the academic, to a gallerist immersed in the tough business, now returning to a position that is museological and institutional, looking after a collection that has recently become public – Pi Li has seen it all. His move from Beijing to Hong Kong might well be simply a personal decision; to the remapping of Chinese contemporary art, however, it is deemed to be the signifier of a new era.
It’s 2006, Forest Fringe initiated at the Forest Cafe in Edinburgh, a beautiful decaying church hall above the cafe is the place where the group of artists making space for risk and experiment. Over the years they devote themselves to the UK contemporary experimental performances with full of passion. This is a totally independent non-for-profit community, in this community where artists and audiences have no boundaries and even shift the roles; meanwhile this is also a performence festival held annually in Edinburgh, now the festival has grown, they begin to experiment beyond Edinburgh creating projects across the UK and internationally. As one of the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange programmes in 2015, seven artists came to China to share their ideas with local artists and audiences. After this three-week China Tour, the co-director Andy Field and the artist Richard DeDomenici shared their unforgettable experience with us.
The moving train where we sit always attracts us to ‘see’ the scenery outside, and the speed of motion also removes the passengers from the sense of place, acting as a barrier. Even in a relatively slow tram, serving as a common way for commuters in a city, the windows through which they see mostly serve as utterly usual views. It shows ‘nothing’ more than a space that hosts daydreams; in this way, the moving coach is a place without any productive values. However, the project conducted by the British artists collective Circumstance, Sitting-Still-Moving – Times Museum Art on Track, aimed to change this impression and to transform the tram into a carriage that not only carries people but also brings them a novel story, or a past-cum-forgotten history regarding the local community.