Putting on the positive.

Putting on the positive.

The Bath-based Museum of East Asian Art is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a contemporary exhibition about ‘wellness’ at a time when it could do with a little ‘healing’ itself.

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This little gem of a museum is still mourning the theft of a few ‘jewels’ from its own collection ‘crown’ after a mid-night burglary both robbed and wrecked one of its galleries.Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 06.59.16

Today –  Saturday, May 5th – the museum’s doors defiantly open on a new season and a follow-through exhibition which explores our quest for mental and physical reassurance.

 

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Zhang Yanzi

 

It’s by Beijing-based artist Zhang Yanzi who – according to the exhibition brochure: ‘explores our common frailties and shared humanity, investigating the nature and meaning of wellness in China, its history, and it’s modern counterpoints from a Chinese perspective.

We invite visitors to be open to a breadth of approaches to wellness and to experience psychological refreshment.’

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Ties in nicely with the history of our own city here in the West doesn’t it? Bath’s ‘healing waters’ heritage that stretches back to Roman times.

The centrepiece of Zhang Yanzi’s show is a silk robe covered in capsules which ponders the question ‘do these pills ‘cloak’ us with a feeling of reassurance and calm?’

 

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The robe of pills centrepiece!

 

‘A Quest for Wellness’ has been curated by Nicole Chiang who explained what is now on view.

 

A Quest for Wellness – Contemporary Chinese Art by Zhang Yanzi – runs until November 12th.

Please check out the museum’s website for more information via https://meaa.org.uk

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It also contains details of its appeal to raise money to help refit the gallery – badly damaged in the burglary – and also illustrations of the items stolen.

 

We want our Police Station back.

We want our Police Station back.

Bring back Bath Police Station – and give us some CCTV camera street surveillance – say some of the traders around the Circus and Assembly Rooms districts following a spate of organised crime which has left one antique dealer and a major museum devastated.

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The Museum of East Asian Art

Priceless Chinese artefacts have been stolen by four masked men who smashed their way into the Museum of East Asian Art earlier this week. They got away with jade, ceramic and gold artefacts in a raid that was probably a targeted attack with the objects stolen to order.

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Closed until further notice.

Also, last Thursday , the antique silver shop, Beau Nash on Brock Street, was the victim of a major break-in when five robbers smashed in the front door at midnight and made off with quantities of antique silver stock.

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Beau Nash antiques shop

Speaking to one of the owners Bath Newseum heard that the police arrived very quickly and did a great job but he thought that CCTV street surveillance might have deterred the raid or given valuable clues to the raiders’ identities. He wants B&NES to get some cameras in operation as soon as possible.

An elderly lady living in a flat above the shop shouted at the men from out her window. They pelted her with stones.

The raid is costing the business thousands of pounds – including money that will have to be spent on additional security.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Assembly Rooms, another trader told me the break-ins weren’t the only criminal activity in the area.

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“Earlier the same day, a lady from Alfred Street came in saying that there was a drug deal being exchanged in broad daylight outside her front door opposite the Assembly Inn.

Last month, stock was stolen from my wife’s shop. Also, about a month ago, we heard the awful reports of four people being mugged at knifepoint at the top end of Bath, each one a separate incident on the same day,’ said this trader who wishes to remain anonymous.

‘Over the past twelve months, we have seen several drug deals happening in or around Bartlett Street which have been reported to the Police.

Every day we see street beggars, drinkers and drug-users stumbling up and down Bartlett Street, Milsom Street and Stall Street several times a day, sometimes directly approaching people to beg, which is illegal, and often drinking in public, which is illegal.

 

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Milsom Street

 

Since last October there have been several reports of serious sexual assaults. Last week we heard the report of a serious sexual assault on Westgate Street.’

The trader told Bath Newseum that a report on Somerset Live said that, over the past twelve months, Bath has seen an increase in burglary of 31%. That there had been a very noticable rise in reported crime – seemingly since the closure of the City’s only Police Station.

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Bath Police Station used to be in Manvers Street.

‘How can it be possible for a major city, a World Heritage City which is one of this country’s main tourist locations, to not have a fully functioning Police Station.

It is an absolute outrage that through the incompetence of city management  this has been allowed to happen and it has quickly led to our city being seen as an easy target for criminals and has allowed and even encouraged increasingly more serious crime to occur.’

The trader – who didn’t want to be named – said he had written to Wera Hobhouse and Cllr Peter Turner to request that they lobby the Council Cabinet for a Police Station to be reinstated, to include a functioning custody suite with holding cells and let people have a greater Police presence within Bath, as a matter of utmost urgency.

I caught up with Lucy Simon who is Secretary of the Bath Independent Organisation which represents traders, hotels and restaurants in the town.

 

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/

Major coup for Bath museum

Major coup for Bath museum

I cannot do this particular artist justice in reproducing some of the amazing contemporary ink paintings that are now on show at Bath’s Museum of East Asian Art – just across the road from the Assembly Rooms and on the edge of The Circus..

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Wu Lan-Chiann’s wonderful examples of East-West art fusion are exhibited behind glass and your Director was having problems with reflections. I seriously suggest you go and see them for yourselves.

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At the core of her work is a personal contemplation of universal themes that connect people across time, space and culture – using a painting tradition that is centuries old.

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Wu Lan-Chiann is centre in this picture from the special preview opening.

She blends eastern and western creative processes into an authentic style marked by decisive but delicate brushwork and a subtle use of colour.P1140254 (1)

Wu Lan-Chiann has exhibited her art in the United States, Taiwan and Japan. This is her first solo exhibition in the UK and a bit of an honour – if not a major coup – for the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath.

Wu Lan-Chiann now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

She has missed Thanksgiving this year – to launch her Bath exhibition – and l could see was a little sad to know her family were so far away.

She is a graceful and talented artist who has successfully brought two worlds together in  her work.

The exhibition  continues through to May 15 2016.

Link through to http://www.meaa.org.uk for more information on this and other attractions at one of Bath’s most unusual and nationally-important museums.

 

 

Bath’s Chinese history uncovered

Bath’s Chinese history uncovered

We may all take our Chinese restaurants and take-aways for granted – as having been part of our street-scene for years – but to date no one has actually researched the subject of Chinese immigration to Bath and what history and heritage these newcomers from the East have.

Now, to strengthen its role in promoting cultural understanding, the Museum of East Asian Art has undertaken its first oral history project to trace and record that unexplored social ground.

Mrs Fung You Lee is a retired takeaway owner who has lived in Bath since 1978. She is pictured with some of her treasured family photos.

Mrs Fung You Lee is a retired takeaway owner who has lived in Bath since 1978. She is pictured with some of her treasured family photos.

Although it is possible that some Chinese or South East Asian people had already lived and worked in Bath, documentation for the Kingsmead Street Chinese laundry – around 1916 – is the oldest public example of a city presence that could be traced. That’s after searching local archives all the way back to the Georgian period. It is a solid proof that the Chinese have been members of the community for nearly a century.

Mr and Mrs Yuk Ching Chan. He was Bath's first Chinese bus driver and arrived in 1981. The couple are pictured with the tradition steamer they brought with them as it was thought to be a useful tool for making a living. Mr Chan's mother used them to make street food to help raise ten children back in Hong Kong.

Mr and Mrs Yuk Ching Chan. He was Bath’s first Chinese bus driver and arrived in 1981. The couple are pictured with the tradition steamer they brought with them as it was thought to be a useful tool for making a living. Mr Chan’s mother used them to make street food to help raise ten children back in Hong Kong.

Ten interviewees who have made Bath their homes took part in the project. They shared their stories and experiences from being a stranger to a member of the local community. The interviewees came from different parts of Asia and arrived in the Uk at different times.

Each of their stories is unique and represents different demographic examples over the past fifty years. Portraits of these people with some of their treasured possessions forms part of a new exhibition called Eastern Voices in the West Country which opens tomorrow (January 18th) at the Museum in Bennet Street – near The Circus.

Ling Roper is a bed and breakfast owner who has lived in Bath since 2000. A Jade pendant and Pu'er tea are two of her treasures and a constant reminder of her roots.

Ling Roper is a bed and breakfast owner who has lived in Bath since 2000. A Jade pendant and Pu’er tea are two of her treasures and a constant reminder of her roots.

It also includes a 20-minute video and stories from the public that relate to Chinese history in Bath. There is also archive material from newspapers relating to Chinese people who lived in Bath during the early 20th century.

The video was shot by Bath on TV and can be accessed on their web-site http://www.bathontv.co.uk/tracing-the-chinese-history-of-bath/

The project has been supported by a Bath and North East Somerset Performance Reward Grant and is complimented by a separate exhibition called Treasures which draws from the Museum’s collection to explore the idea of ‘treasures’ according to different circumstances. It showcases objects that were highly regarded by ancient Chinese states and Chinese collectors – as well as people outside China.

Some of these objects were valued for their symbolic and religious properties and others for their technical virtuosity or historical references.

The distinctive front door at The Museum of East Asian Art

The distinctive front door at The Museum of East Asian Art

Their monetary value was not always high and could change through time and different geographical areas. While rusty bronzes might not have been the most popular collectible outside China, they were highly treasured by ancient Chinese states and Confucian scholars. Ceramics, which were sought after within and outside China, could be very different in style and often reflected each region’s own aesthetics.

The exhibitions close on June 29th this year. Check out the Museum’s website on http://www.mea.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.