The Chinese painter making oil and water mix!

The Chinese painter making oil and water mix!

Bath’s blessed with a variety of museums  – covering all manner of subjects from locally made cars to classical architecture – but there’s one rather special one – just around the corner from The Circus  – which can claim to be the only UK museum solely dedicated to the arts and cultures of East and South East Asia.

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The entrance to the Museum of East Asian Art.

It’s currently hosting a small selection of paintings from a European touring exhibition featuring Chinese artist Hong Ling. Now in his 60’s this is a painter who mixes traditional Chinese ink paintings with the oils of our Western artistic culture.

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The exhibition poster displayed outside the museum.

The exhibition begins with early works from the late 1980s when Hong Ling completed his graduate training in western oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA).

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Artist Hong Ling photographed at work.

In the 1990s, his work was richly informed by his extensive travels across China, Asia, and many remote parts of the world.  During this time, Hong Ling also started setting up his studio residence in the region of Mount Huangshan, a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Anhui Province in eastern China.

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Part of the Hong Ling-Selected display.

Since then, he has focussed exclusively on landscape painting, encapsulating the traditions of Chinese aesthetic philosophies with western painting medium.

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There’s a book on the artist and his work for sale at the museum.

Working in parallel studios in Huangshan and Beijing, devoted to both oil and ink painting, Hong Ling’s works tell the story of one artist’s embrace of the natural world, his personal development, and his versatile creativity.

Bath Newseum went along to  a preview evening to speak to curator Nicole Chiang.

Hong Ling – Selected is running at the Museum of East Asian Art through to July 2nd. Find out more via http://www.meaa.org.uk/

Bath’s hidden Chinese history

Bath’s hidden Chinese history

A little bit of Bath‘s hidden history is going to be revealed to us all in a couple of months and it has nothing to do with the city’s Roman or Georgian past.

The Museum of East Asia Art with the Circus in the background.

The Museum of East Asia Art with the Circus in the background.

Just across the road from the Assembly Rooms – and around the corner from the Circus – you will find the Museum of East Asian Art which houses one of the country’s finest collections of ceramics, jades, bronzes and much more  from China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia.

The distinctive front door at The Museum of East Asian Art

The distinctive front door at The Museum of East Asian Art

Nearly two thousand objects – dating from 5,000 BC to the present day – are displayed in a converted Georgian town house which began its new museological career in April 1993.

This isn’t though the only ‘oriental’ presence in our World Heritage city and the Museum has launched an oral history project to discover and record the untold Chinese history of Bath.

One of the galleries at The Museum of East Asian Art

One of the galleries at The Museum of East Asian Art

With support from the Bath and North East Somerset Performance Reward Grant the Museum has made contact with ten Chinese families who have settled in the city over the years –  in fact going back as far as 1915.

While they are helping by recording their initial experiences of life in a completely different cultural world, the Museum now wants to invite Bathonians to share their stories of coming into contact with people of Chinese origin.

Rachel Yuan - who is  leading the project for The Museum of East Asian Art

Rachel Yuan – who is leading the project for The Museum of East Asian Art

Whether it was the first Chinese cuisine you tasted, or fond memories of a Chinese family opening a takeaway  on the corner of your street – or maybe the first Chinese classmate or friend you met.

Stories and photographs from before the 1970’s are especially welcomed.

To date there has been no research done on the subject of Chinese immigrants in Bath and little trace of any local Chinese history.

The Virtual Museum has been talking to Rachel Yuan who is undertaking the research and putting together an oral history short film which will go on display at the Museum in January.

The video will be displayed with a collection of photographs taken during the project which – it is planned – will be accompanied by talks and other education activities relating to the history of Chinese immigration to the UK and particularly this part of the country.

You can link to the Museum’s website through  www.meaa.org.uk

Bath and the West Country also have historical trading links to China  with tea and porcelain being one of the most valued aspects of commerce in 18th century England and Bath was the  second most popular resort after London for those activities.

By the mid 18th century tea drinking was playing an important role in the city’s social life. An important part of the Museum’s collection is the Armorial Porcelain in the Ceramics Gallery, with the pieces illustrating the important link between China and 18th century Bath and its surrounding region.