D is for…

…dinner. I think I promised to update the day after the conference, needless to say life took over this week. I don’t think I’ve had one night in yet.

The post-conference dinner took place at a Thai restaurant opposite the IKON Gallery in Birmingham with the conference delegates, the Head of the School of Art at BIAD John Butler, Jiang Jiehong (Joshua, my PhD supervisor) and Nancy whose Chinese name is Jiang Qian. She kindly helped out with the conference as another student was unexpected ill. We had many broken conversations, her English was fantastic though in comparison to my Mandarin skills. She reassured me I would be able to speak Mandarin at some stage and gave me some little Chinese snacks in the form of Wasabi nuts, a dried scallop and these sweet apple thins. A cacophony of flavours that’s for sure. She was even generous enough to invite me out to China in the new year for the Spring Festival and stay with her family. I think I’m definitely there in April/May 2010. Anyway, at the dinner it was proposed to produce a publication to present the conference findings, bilingual and possibly ready in conjunction with the Shanghai Biennale in October 2010. This seems to be going ahead after further conversations, and there may even be editorial opportunities for me. Another wait and see situation. There was also a bit of an inappropriate lost in translation moment…it involved vegetarian food but i’ll leave it at that.

Wednesday’s Mandarin class started with an impromptu photo shoot for use in the college marketing material. Surprise surprise muggins ended up in them, one of which is shown below, though it’s actually quite a nice shot. By the way that’s Tan Lao Shi, or Lilly as her students know her, my tutor. After this drama the class consisted of double figure numbers, times and days. Lilly also let us see some more advanced material such as common phrases like ‘It’s all Greek to me’. This particular phrase made me laugh out loud immediately. It translate quite literally…gicheng…’It’s like chicken intestine’s, and that’s exactly what my PhD is right now. We also referenced back to previous material such as colours and food…for some reason my head is really struggling to retain some information, or maybe I’m not giving it the time that it deserves. I think it’s post-it note time…all over everything as reminders. Nancy did teach me two new phrases though on Tuesday – lao ban (boss) and bu ke qi (you’re welcome), oh and not forgetting gonggong yishu (public art). I am determined to make serious headway over Christmas.
Mandarin Class..
On Thursday it was PhD day starting with a tutorial with Joshua. We discussed the interdisciplinary nature of the CCVA and Negotiating Difference conferences, the outcomes and follow ups that needed to be done.  Joshua confirmed my third supervisor which is the renowned contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing. I am overwhelmed and so excited by this, I have to initiate contact with him asap. There was discussion regarding current research and methods of, also about the difficulty in finding specific relevant literature where it is obvious that my research will not always directly reference contemporary Chinese art, crossing boundaries with literary translation, philosophy and sociology. There was further discussion into interview methods and the issue of location, where the use of MSN was suggested. It can have a better functionality than talking face to face as it involves more thought, and saves transcribing time as it is already written into text. Sounds perfect right? Pros and cons to everything. In the afternoon it was the Pg Cert course this time highlighting the completion of the 9R form in order to register your PhD. It is all slowly becoming reality.

Both Thursday and Friday evenings consisted of fabulous art parties…firstly it was the IKON Eastside closing party ‘ON/OFF‘ organised by my friends COLOUR, the visuals for which were fantastic. It was such a cold evening though, really brrrrrr.

On Friday night, it was the opening of Nottingham Contemporary. We arrived quite late, but still in time to see many of the UK’s art elite drunk and dancing to chart music like Beyonce. We are all normal underneath the contemporary art game facade. Totally totally random, free bar, double kisses, americana neon signage, a drag queen, concrete perspectives, smiles and a beautiful exhibition by Frances Stark. This display I heart – text, process, collage, obsession, emotionality, perfection…the gallery also seem to be producing a very distinct type and format of catalogue which I hope continues. A perfect way to end a very busy week.

Until next week…”inshallah”.


  1. what, no mention? I am saddened.

    Methinks you are one busy Midlands lady and in great company. If only your readers knew who with…

    Farm Artist x

    ps I am intrigued One. by your lost in translation moment (or do I know?) and Two. the use of MSN and transcription-salvaging. Clever. Or lazy? We shall speak soon, no doubt

  2. Georgie, your company and dialogue made this week so much better, you know that! It is going to be strange not having you around this week, really.

    You too are a busy PhD-er…and travelling much more than me…definitely speak soon (and you do know about the lost in translation thing, um is it a fantasy for them?! Who knows…)

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