After a concert of music by Chopin and Mussorgsky, we went to the night market.
One of the benefits of travelling has been the opportunity to read and digest Ways of Drawing, the Royal Drawing School’s recently published bible, containing the thoughts and ideas of its teaching staff and ex-students, including a brilliant description of what it feels like to be an artist’s model by Isley Lynn (but no pictures of what she looks like), a description of the pleasures and experience of drawing in the countryside by Daniel Chatto and of drawing items of natural history close-up by Clara Drummond. Cumulatively, the essays convey the intensity of the experience of drawing and of how it gets one to think as well as look. They’ve printed 10,000 copies, which shows how popular it is expected to be.
We were taken to Din Tai Fung, the home of Taiwenese dumplings which has apparently recently opened in Covent Garden. A scene of wild activity:-
I felt the extreme angst of only having a morning to visit the National Palace Museum, one of the great museums of the world with its Imperial collections, the residue of all the works put into packing cases in 1933, and transported first to Shanghai, then Nanking, and eventually between December 1948 and February 1949 to Taiwan, where they were displayed in a new museum in the mid-1960s.
We started with the jades:-
I tried to remember what Craig Clunas taught in his seminar about the Cong:-
Jade Pigs were to hold as one entered into the next world:-
Then, we looked at bronzes. A cauldron from the late Shang Dynasty (c.13th. Century BCE):-
A wine vessel from the 11th. century BCE:-
The pattern on a flask from the 5th century BCE:-
A container from the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD):-
Down to painting and calligraphy, where we admired an eighteenth-century depiction of Li Bai’s ‘Preface to the Banquet at the Peach and Plum Garden on a Spring Evening’:-
I barely had a chance to study the amazing collection of ceramics. I suppose it’s always possible that one day I will come back.
I’ve been trying to fathom Taipei: a new culture to me; offshore; a cultural mix of Chinese and Japanese; the centre for the manufacture of semi-conductors; half the billionaires at dinner last night were Taiwanese; it has apparently retained more of its old architecture than Shanghai; a population of over 20 million; safe; no litter on the streets. I look out from my hotel room across the city towards Taipei 101, which was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. Built in the style of a pagoda:-
Next stop was Li Lei’s studio in the smarter, but leafy suburbs:-
Li Lei had organised half of Shanghai’s press for a press conference:-
Then, we prepared to celebrate:-
We started off close to the top floor of an apartment block in the studio of Wang Jieyin, drinking tea with the sun coming in:-
I was nervous of photographing him because it felt intrusive:-
He paints remembered landscapes, looking out from his studio:-