During my visit quite an extreme typhoon made its way towards Hong Kong. We battened down the hatches on Lamma Island, especially since we were so close to the ocean. After the typhoon passed the beach was awash with large coral, shells and detritus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
After an intense few weeks in mainland China I headed for Hong Kong for a break; to refuel and take stock. While I was in Hong Kong I stayed with my agent Tracy Hansen (Director of Renditions Ltd), on Lamma Island. Lamma Island is a small Island approximately 40 minutes boat ride south of Hong Kong.
Tracy had an exciting week planned for me; well deserved Island time…I stayed in her special Studio for visiting artists. It was on the beach and ten metres from the ocean…
… a meeting with The School of Design at the Polytechnic University; a meeting with SCAD Hong Kong and a visit to their inner city gallery, a ticket to the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales Preview and the best Peking Duck in Hong Kong!