Thursday, November 1, 2012

5 Weeks in China - What an Adventure

The experience of China was simply amazing, on every level - Shanghai, Beijing, Huangshan and Jingdezhen. There will be several posts following this one, and I'll try to encapsulate the experiences, there were so many, it's hard to know where to begin.

Even though it was not the first place we visited, I'll start with the pottery town of Jingdezhen (it is a city really of over 200,000 people). It was dusty, dirty, crowded, noisy, but absolutely fascinating. There was confusion as we arrived and found the residency not what we expected - a lot got lost in translation, but mostly we sorted it out thanks to the wonderful Eamonn who tried to sort out problems, like the beds being aboard with no mattress (well he found mattresses for us, but they were straw mattresses, so we had 3 weeks on very hard beds!), he kept the bottle of drinking water full for us, and organised a wonderful restaurant that served much lighter food (less oil, and less bones) that the normal food eaten in this region. The food was excellent.

For the ceramics artist Jingdezhen was a never ending maze of new pottery experiences, new ideas, new materials, and exhibitions. It was all about ceramics, and definitely all about the glazes. There are small pottery factories that each produce a different stage of the work - the mould maker, the painter, the glazer, the carver, and the numerous public kilns all around the city. There are streets that sell decals, kiln parts and equipment, glazes, tools, and of course pots. The Chinese love the BIG pots, very big pots, and there is a focus on this production - more about the big pot factory later. It was interesting that most of the work produced is sold within China, the demand is so big, but the more contemporary Chinese artists have trouble selling their work. Some of the contemporary art was excellent - will post those photos later.

I'm back in the studio with some new materials, lots of new tools, and brimming with ideas. It's good to be home!

So a few photos around Jingdezhen - there will be more to follow, and there are more on my Picasa site (which I am still uploading so all the photos are not there yet, but I have posted Shanghai and Beijing) -

Typical street scene in pottery suburbs in Jingdezhen. Pots being transported by handcart to the public kilns. 

Pots drying on a roof - pots everywhere.

Small pottery factories around Jingdezhen

Traditional painted work - painted with Qin Hua blue and stains. The pots are fired to 1310deg c. 

Turning the pots in a small pottery factory in Jingdezhen - the pots are turned at bone dry stage as the clay is very fragile when leather hard.

The Year of the Dragon -  dragon made from hundreds of ceramics bowls. People's Square in Jingdezhen.

Lamp posts are ceramics - a different design in each street. 

Lovely display of traditionally painted work. The craftsmanship is amazing. 

Typical meal in Jingdezhen - the food in quite heavy usually - will post about the food later!

So next episode next week. 


Anna said...

Hi Ellen
thanks for sharing your experiences - I'll be checking your picasa files :^) welcome home..

Jan said...

Wow, how amazing. I look forward to other posts too about your trip. Thanks Anna :)

Marian Williams said...

I'm loving hearing about you've trip!!!! More please!!!! And I need some context about the trip, sponsored through an organization or Uni?, and who went etc!!!! Thanks heaps!!!!!

Ellen Appleby said...

Hi Marian - the trip was organised by Robyn Gill who is a potter on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She had been to China several times before and organised a residency at XIngdu pottery village for 3 weeks for 10 local ceramicists. The pottery centre we went to is sponsored by a Chinese entrepreneur Mr Feng who is not a potter. We had a wonderful time, but I would not go back to that residency - the accommodation was not good, and the studio space disorganised (e.g. no good wheels). There are two other places in Jingdezhen that offer residencies - San Bao, which, after some problems in the past, is operating very well now, and the Pottery Workshop near the Sculpture Factory which looked good to. I'd certainly go back to Jingdezhen, and try one of the other residencies.

smartcat said...

You do a great travelogue and commentary, with a 'real-feel' about them.