Presenting “Rachel”…

Over the past few months I’ve been invited to present my current research, from Chinese Arts Centre and PhD land, to various Higher Education institutions, galleries and museums across the UK. From the Masters course in Art and the Public Sphere at Loughborough University School of Arts to my previous Masters course in Art Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of Leicester, from the Arts of China course at Christie’s Education to the China Night at the Ashmolean Museum, and finally the ‘Thursday Night Salon: Contemporary Chinese Art and Culture’ series in London. It’s been one jam-packed Spring and Summer of talks and critiques that I really have loved every second of because as you know I’m all about talking and sharing research. I love linking minds and people, expanding networks, dialogues and lines of communication…something people have told me I’m gifted at doing. Thank you to those people and for the opportunities I’ve had this year. Here are a few images from those experiences…and a few thoughts along the way…

AMAGS lecture 1

AMAGS lecture 2

AMAGS lecture 3It’s funny to go back to talk on a course that you once studied. A funny feeling hit me that day of how far I’ve come since my Master’s studies of 2006-7…six years on. It was interesting to hear the students current concerns of the future, their plans and aspirations and the world of unknown as they were unsure what to specialise in, in the museum and gallery domain. There were a handful of international students from East Asia that provided great clarity to my talk as they agreed with my cultural understandings of China (always nice to know I’m on the right lines) and also further perspectives during the discussion time.

At the end of April, a friend and previous colleague was organising the China Night LiveFriday at the Ashmolean Museum. They contacted me for recommendations as to who to invite, such as performers and musicians, whilst also inviting me to speak on the idea of transcultural curating. Throughout the night, I gave three talks to an audience that grew and grew, and with that more and more questions. Let’s just say the audience in Oxford is the most educated and probing that I’ve ever had to respond to…some people had no fear and were happy to be super critical which was a nice change. One chap asked, well more like stated, that he didn’t think contemporary Chinese art could ever be viewed or translated without China, the China factor or “Chineseness” as such. I could understand what he was trying to articulate but it’s certainly not my belief. All art regardless of where it is from can be understood in different terms away from its home culture. Some really great people and minds met that evening that I am currently in dialogue with…

The Ashmolean Museum literally gets thousands of visitors through the door for LiveFriday’s, I think over 2,500 that night…something Chinese Arts Centre can only dream of! It really was a fun evening from the Xu Bing exhibition, to karaoke and dim sum in the basement, to Chinese massage and medicine, to calligraphy classes and fun and games…not forgetting Cai and JJ’s “Scream” performance.


China Night 5

China Night 4

China Night 2

China Night 3

China Night 5

China Night 6An invite came out the blue from Christie’s Education to come and talk on their Arts of China course specifically as regards professional development and my PhD studies, my pathway to PhD as such. I spoke to a completely Chinese cohort that day, only a couple of whom who were actually interested in taking that next academic step. The usual questions were asked such as why did you decide to do a PhD and what is the hardest part…I can’t actually remember how or why the PhD happened but the hardest part is to find the motivation to write. If it was like writing my blog, I’d do it in no time! My presentation was very much practically minded in comparison to more theoretical presentation by the Chinese academic that has just finished at SOAS in London. A good balance and again, another great opportunity to expand networks.

Christie's Education 1

Christie's Education 2

Finally, here I am talking after a friend and fellow Chinese art PhD-er Ros Holmes, at the informal ‘Thursday Night Salon: Contemporary Chinese Art and Culture’ series in London. It took place at one of the organiser’s parents apartments in Lancaster Gate (a beautiful spot) with a pretty good crowd of people…a mix of researchers and professionals. I discussed the idea of transcultural curatorial practice, specifically how contemporary Chinese art is understand through governmental, commercial and cultural divisions, talking largely about the work of Ai Weiwei. Strangely enough, and without knowing, Ros’s paper looked explicitly at Ai Weiwei too, so they had this great synergy.

More presentations to come at the start of next academic year, but until then it’s time for the summer hiatus, the summer lull and in reality recovery time after surgery kingdom…which I have to fill you in on pretty soon. 14 days and counting…



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