I have been learning Chinese painting for a number of years and the first time I exhibited in China was 2010 but at the last minute I was unable to attend as I was extremely sick for most of that year. So when the opportunity to contribute to the Australian Colour and Ink Painting Exhibition being held in Beijing this year I was determined to go. However, only a small cohort of Patrick Lam’s students went for the opening. I was the only one from my class plus the only European.
|Opening of Art Show|
The opening was on 2nd April in the afternoon and were told to meet at the Grand Hyatt as we would be driven to the where the exhibition was to be held. It was a long way out passed the 3rd Ring Road. We were eventually driven down a narrow street with interesting old houses on each side. We stopped outside one of these and as we entered the through the large gates it opened up into a courtyard which was surrounded by various rooms. We were quickly ushered into a little reception room and offered tea, Chinese of course.
We sat around for quite a long time waiting for the important officials to arrive and not surprisingly, the opening ceremony was late in starting. There were the usual introductions and speeches, then the cutting of the ribbons, which in China is always very formal. The exhibition was now formally open.
Everyone there wandered around hopefully admiring the paintings. One of my jobs was to photograph the paintings of my fellow class mates which proved a little more challenging than I thought it would be, as they weren't grouped according to artist nor had anything in pinyin or English. I had to carefully examine the chops on each painting hoping I accurately recognized everyone’s.
|One of my paintings|
. A full size sheet of paper was produced and I was dreading being put to the test of painting something in front of everyone as happened at exhibitions in the past. Patrick started the painting and the other prominent Chinese artists added to it and eventually an absolute wonderful collaborative painting was the result. We students were totally off the hook and those from the other class added a few little details, I was hoping to be ignored but being the only European I stood out so Patrick beckoned me over to add some stamens to some of the blossom. It was an easy exercise but my hand shook and I know that even the stamens weren’t that great, but at least they were lost amid the greater picture.
|June Deakin's Tiger|
One of the artist’s was a bit of a showman and painted wonderful peonies and horses with a few bold deft stokes of the brush. That is definitely talent. Unfortunately I work very hard to produce something very meagre by the side of that.
The weather was gradually getting colder, but we had to have the wrap for the opening with more standing around and photos, with us all holding the collaborative work.
|The Collaborative Painting|
We were then invited to a dinner, which is always very good, but I think this was exceptional. We went to a Moslem (Uighur) restaurant. The courses were many, one being a whole lamb which was rolled in propped up on a large tray. A bit confronting but the lamb was the most tender I have ever tasted. We also had very expensive Chinese wine, which is really as strong as whiskey. I commented to my friend that our meals would be definitely going downhill after this.
The whole event was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.