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I can not believe another month or maybe two months have passed! Oops! There was so much to do and so little time! In September I loved being in Shanghai again. I stayed at The Waterhouse Hotel – my favourite place to stay when in Shanghai. I wrote about how it had matured and grown since my last visit around the same time last year. My experiences were posted at Howwecreate.com Website.

View from The Waterhouse Hotel’s Rooftop Bar with Garden.

I stayed in a different room this time – The River Suite. Lush!

Exceptional fresh flavours at the Hotel’s restaurant One. HWC.com’s Norman Johnson tucks in to a Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad Starter!

I took to my preferred mode of transport-the bike and hit Shanghai Streets! It was great to see what had changed and what had remained constant at street level.

On my bike and loving Shanghai Streets

As part of howwecreate.com I attended D.A.F.F. – The Design Art and Fashion Fair. There were some great local participants, and things to see and do.

A lesson in guerrilla marketing by fashion label Minirine – “the fashion-side expression of globetrotting mixed-media artist Marine Bigo”.

Close Up! Too Close!

So cute!

So cool!

As the sun sets on a glorious day in Shanghai!

Next Stop Cambodia!

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Hong Kong Collage 01
Hong Kong Collage 02

Hong Kong! A beautiful mix of extreme topography, tall buildings, great shopping, exciting nightlife and business. I had a well deserved break while in Hong Kong walking through the shopping district, visiting roof top bars, and eating amazing cuisine… A massive thank you to my host Tracy Hansen!

SCAD’s amazing facilities; including break out areas featuring SCAD alumni’s work; green screen studios; and Court rooms adapted for lectures

We met with Grant Preisser, Associate Vice President of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong. He guided us through SCAD’s new facilities focusing on works by SCAD students and alumni that lined the halls and public areas of the building.

The adaption of the Court House has made interesting spaces for SCAD students, especially installation artists, to explore their works

SCAD Hong Kong is housed in a heritage listed Court Building and so includes cells, court rooms and public spaces that have been sensitively adapted for their new function as a learning hub for creative careers such as drawing, photography, sculpture and digital imaging. SCAD believes in process led practice where intense studios encourage the medium to guide the experience and process of design and making in all of its forms.

Grant also walked us through Oceana at SCAD’s Moot Gallery, an exhibition of new photographic work by SCAD alumna Lisa M. Robinson. Her work beautifully captured the transformative nature of water (its shape, movement and mood during moments of becoming); during storm surges, changes of state from ice to fluid currents and vice versa. The work resonated with me and echoed the importance of nature’s role in the making of patterns. From early times to the ever-present nature continues to inform and inspire culture especially through art making.

Amazing Location: Tracy and Claire (Gallery Associate) at SCAD Central Gallery, Hong Kong

We made our way to SCAD Gallery in Central Hong Kong where we met with Claire Cheung, SCAD Gallery Associate and viewed work by Yeondoo Jung in the exhibition entitled The Mechanics of Invention.

Tracy and I at Sotheby’s HK Autumn Preview

Through Tracy Hansen’s role in Contemporary Art within Hong Kong we had special preview tickets to Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales. This would be an opportunity to see some amazing traditional and contemporary works close up, as well as meet Artists and Gallery Representatives.

I spent a lot of time within Dragons and Silk from the Forbidden City a display featuring works from Teresa Coleman Fine Arts.  Here there were antique silk textiles and costumes from the Imperial Court of China. She had a beautiful collection of Formal Court Robes from The Forbidden City, including Dragon Robes (The Chi-fu) and Women’s Ceremonial Court robes (Women’s Chao-fu) that highlighted the Twelve Symbols of Authority.

Dragon Robe at Teresa Coleman Fine Arts display

The Dragon Robes’ overall design, in content and form, represents a diagram of the universe. The robe’s lower edge included a wave border represented by diagonal stripes edged above with rolling waves. Four peaks symbolize the earth and mountains with the four elements (air, earth, fire and water) each represented by a dragon. Dragons on a robe are a symbol of authority; good fortune and good luck as well as a symbol of the nature male vigor and vitality. The robe’s neck is the gate of Heaven with the symbolism only complete when the robe is worn; the wearer’s head represents the Heavens. The robe also includes cranes (for longevity) and the ‘Ji’ character (luck) together meaning ‘hope for life’.

The Twelve Symbols of Authority (from the Ming Dynasty) arranged on the Imperial Robes include: The Sun, The Moon, Constellations, Mountains, Pair of Dragons, Pheasant, Fu Symbol, Axe, Water Weeds, Liberation Cup, Flames and Millet. The symbols have specific form and meaning and are arranged in order around the neck, waist and knees. Together they make a complete message that the Emperor is blessed with a mandate from Heaven to govern over all creation.

The robes were displayed in a way that allowed close up experience. It was incredible to see the meticulous embroidery; intense colors and detailed patterns. One could gain an appreciation for the traditional embroidery and textile techniques used in these ancient times including peking knot stitch (da zi meaning ‘making seeds’ the small knots resemble seeds), couching and brocade as well as the brilliant colors achieved through natural dyes and pigments such as Indigo (Blue), Gardenia Flowers (Yellow) and Cinnibar (Vermillion).

Sotheby’s HK Autumn Preview

While at the Sotheby’s Preview Tracy also introduced me to painter Takahide Komatsu represented by Tezukayama Gallery, Japan; and Fiona Ho, Gallery Manager of The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong.

L>R PolyU Design Staff Roger Ball, Scot Laughton and Martin Wong in front of student’s work

We met with Roger Ball (PHD) Director and Founder of the Size China Project and among other things is Assistant Professor at PolyU’s School of Design. As a co-founder of Paradox Design in Canada, he created high performance sports products for clients such as Itech Sport, Burton Snow boards, Brine Lacrosse, and Nike/Bauer.

Out on the snowfields he found that many of his Asian snowboarding companions removed their headgear frequently, even when descending a slope. They suffered headaches from their helmets. On further research he discovered that the majority of headgear proportions were based on a non-Asian set of standards. No one had mapped the Asian head! And so the Size China Project began; to map a digital database of Asian head and face sizes for use by manufacturers and designers internationally. It was the first such digital database of its kind.

Roger and Tina with Size China Standard Head Types (Male)

Through 3D digital scanning, measurement data was collected from males and females in six distinct areas on the Chinese mainland to ensure the patterns of features and differences were captured in the study. These areas included Guangzhou, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Langzhou, Beijing, and Shenyang. This process was undertaken in collaboration with Chinese universities and local industries with expertise in ergonomics.

While there Roger, Tina Yan Luximon ( PHD, Chief Scientist) and Janis Tsui Ka Man (Research Assistant; CAD Specialist) scanned my head for prosperity. They have a database of designers’ heads too which includes scans of Australian Designer Marc Newson’s and Architect Zaha Hadid’s head.

Janis prepares me for the scanning process

Roger gave a tour of PolyU’s School of Design where we saw some great work by Industrial and Product Design, Environment and Interior Design students and graduates. In 2012/13 PolyU Design will move into a new home, Innovation Tower, the first permanent architectural work in Hong Kong by Zaha Hadid. It will provide additional space to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration.

I also met other members of the School of Design including Scot Laughton and Martin Wong. The team at PolyU Design was amazingly generous with their time and thoughts and I felt a special connection with their inquisitive and creative process, and forward thinking approach to the teaching of design.

Guangzhou Collage 01
Guangzhou Collage 02

The saying “If you build it they will come!” rings true for GuangzhouGuangzhou is a city that is becoming. There are a myriad of cranes working on the city skyline. Large public squares and buildings have been rapidly completed. The wide streets are eerily quiet before the expected influx of people/population. More tropical than any of the other Chinese cities I had visited to date, the boulevards lined with fig trees reminded me of my own hometown, Brisbane.

…the contents that sit within The Guangdong Museum treasure box? Treasures from the region of course. The region is recognized for its carving especially in wood, ivory and jade. Within the museum there were exquisite examples of these along with embroidery, painting and ceramics.

L > R Detail of Pine Tree within Chaozhou Embroidery, Late Qing Dynasty; Painted Enamel Bowl with Lid, Qing Dynasty; Top Detail of Engraved Ivory Tusk, Qing Dynasty

A highlight was the Chaozhou Woodcarving exhibition. Chaozhou Woodcarving is a folk woodcarving known for its detail, craftsmanship, and elaborate design. It has distinctive local characteristics that reflect the process, local customs, beliefs and way of life of the Chaozhou-Shantou people.

L > R Window Grill with Flowers incorporated in Geometric Design; Plank in openwork featuring pine and flowers, Qing Dynasty

Craftsman use the basic materials of wood, lacquer, pigment and foil. Woods used include camphor, chinafir, chinaberry, and rosewood. The works on display featured special techniques employed to make the screens, carvings and objects. These techniques included Intaglio, Relief, Altorelievo, and Openwork used individually or in combination. The actual carvings were setout using metric, perspectival and isometric composition techniques. Like in stone carving, Chaozhou Woodcarving uses the properties of each unique piece of wood to inform the carving technique, layering and composition type.

L > R Shrine door in openwork featuring pattern of Nine Bats delivering longevity; Detail of decorative panel in struck relief with patterns of dragons, phoenixes and The Eight Immortals on Ruyi heads background, Qing Dynasty; Complex plank work with figures and stories, The Republic of China 

The artisans had beautifully captured the essential features of local nature within the wood carvings. Most memorable were the peony flower and chrysanthemum; the structure and simplicity of the pine needles; as well as the detailed scales and feathers of the mythical beasts (dragons, phoenixes etc.) The works using simpler techniques such as Intaglio (carving into surface) used only a few marks to capture discerning features.

Combinations of more complex techniques created a special space to experience within the carving. Patterned openwork for background (often including simplified and varied arrangements of clouds) used with more dimensional techniques such as altorelievo (three-dimensional carving that can be observed from any angle) gave focus, depth and completeness.

A very beautiful and inspiring traditional craft.