|Gao Rong, Guangzhou Station (detail) copy handbag, embroidery thread, fabric and foam, dimensions variable,|
image courtesy the artist
There should surely be websites dedicated to this - maybe useful K-Tel products could be advertised on weird late night TV channels. Perhaps a treadmill which you could operate whilst typing might be the go. I tell myself - every week - that this week will be different. I will walk each morning at sunrise, I will go to the gym, I will go to all those yoga classes I've paid for already. I will not eat chocolate (ha ha) and I will not drink wine (ba ha ha!) And my final vain resolution, every single week, is that I will do an hour of Chinese study every day. Sad to admit, none of this has happened. But there is light at the end of the rainbow and a silver lining at the end of the tunnel. (Which, come to think of it, could well be a Chinese maxim.) Each day is a new beginning and the East is red.....
There is also the fact that the solitary occupation of writing has to be balanced with all the competing demands of daily life. When I read all those stories of male writers who shut themselves away in their studies and emerged only for meals that had been cooked and served by women, I used to think, 'Those bastards!' Now, I think, 'Those lucky bastards...' I am looking for inspiration in other stories of women like PD James who rose before the sun every morning and completed a few hours of writing before going to her job as a senior civil servant. Or Mary Wesley, whose first book was published after she was 70. It did, after all, take me until I was 58 before I had that all important "room of one's own."
The book will, I suppose, eventually, be finished. Afterwards I will return to China, study Chinese each day while I am in Beijing, and embark on a project for a whole new adventure that begins at the end of September. I am looking forward to my encounters with artists such as Li Hongbo, Xu Zhen, Lu Xinjian and Wang Qingsong, and to broadening my field of research. I will travel to Chengdu to visit some artists' studios, and return to Hangzhou, where I was able to spend only one day with Wang Zhibo last December. My experience of China is so limited, and I want to see cities other than Beijing and Shanghai, wonderful though they are.
|Lu Xinjian, City DNA Beijing, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 400 cm, image reproduced courtesy of White Rabbit Gallery|
Even the little ones in Year 7 have done some writing about Cai Guo-Qiang's beautiful circle of animals around a waterhole, 'Heritage', and Year 8 are writing imaginary wall texts for an exhibition of Gao Rong's fake designer handbags embroidered with stains and filled with unlikely embroidered objects, ranging from a sausage to a giant oozing tube of toothpaste; from a packet of laundry powder to builders' tools. I will be intrigued to see what they make of this work, entitled 'Guangzhou Station' and shown at the Moscow Biennale in 2013.
|Gao Rong, Guangzhou Station, (details) copy bags, embroidery thread, fabric and foam, dimensions variable, image courtesy the artist|
'Half the Sky: Conversations with Contemporary Women Artists in China' will be published by Piper Press in October 2015.