The other side of The Great Firewall: two.5 return from China

As we’d suspected, we weren’t able to gain sufficient access to post updates while we were actually in China. It was an amazing three weeks of beautiful landscapes, intense work and fascinating people. While Samantha and I work on posts describing our processes while we were there, here are some snapshots to give you a flavour of our days (and nights).

THE STUDIO

The 'wet' (paint, etc) space at night-time
The ‘wet’ (paint, etc) space at night-time

We were based at Lijiang Studio, an established artists’ residency about 40 minutes by shuttle bus from Lijiang city.

The courtyard (rooms to left, 'wet' space behind me)
The courtyard (rooms to left, ‘wet’ space behind me)

Set in a converted traditional Naxi farmhouse, our studio centred on the courtyard, with living spaces on one side, ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ artist spaces on another with a digital-enabled loft, and based kitchen/bathroom facilities on another.

View of the outdoor library/reading zone, taken from by the kitchen.
View of the outdoor library/reading zone, taken from by the kitchen.

Our immediate neighbours, the Hé family, fed us three meals a day (eaten with the family) and helped co-facilitate the residencies alongside Ffrog Wang who also kindly acted as our translator as well as running the residency programme during our stay.

Dou-dou, our constant companion.
Dou-dou, our constant companion.

Dou-Dou (trans. ‘chubby), the family dog, self-appointed herself as our canine guide while we cycled round the immediate area to interview cement makers, camel-owners, young children, local artists, garment makers, mechanics, farmers and so on and so forth.

Ffrog briefly considers an alternative career in the cement industry.
Ffrog briefly considers an alternative career in the cement industry.

We learned some basics of Naxi cooking and language, religion, traditional dress and ways of life. We saw natural beauties like the local lake, tried cupping, rode ponies up to a Tibetan Buddhist temple, spent a couple of nights on a mountain with a Dongba Shaman, and culminated the residency with a joint exhibition in a Camel Shed with Ffrog and another artist on the residency, CJ.

Samantha makes a new friend up on the mountain.
Samantha makes a new friend up on the mountain.

Three weeks was barely enough to start scraping at the surface but I’ve come back with five notebooks as a starting point and Samantha and I have a plan of action to distill the things we saw, heard and spoke about into a digital book that we hope to make available to you this summer.