THIS and THAT - Residency and Exhibition
This residency at the Shenghua Art Centre in Nanjing was a chance for 2 British artists, Susan Stockwell and Kate McGwire to work alongside Chinese artists for 2 months. They also had a chance to travel in China and were both profoundly affected by what they saw and experienced. The artist and employees at Shenghua were very helpful enabling experimental, large scale installation works to be pursued. Susan continued her investigations in the use of recycled material, in this case cardboard and paper products. The ease of sourcing 3 tons of cardboard boxes from the local recycling centre led to her making a huge work examining the materials inherent qualities. Refrencing the layered history of China and it's present state of flux and change, the used boxes were decaying and grimy, yet beautiful at the same time. The form looked solid but on closer inspection was mutable and fragile, tactile, irregular and punctuated with colour. 'Paper, Glue, Paper' is a monolith to the humble cardboard box, highlighting the importance of the everyday and the ordinary, inviting the viewer to question the material by elevating it to a position of monumental beauty. At the end of the exhibition the boxes were sold back to the local paper recycling centre for a profit! The two small map pieces, 'All the Tea in China' and 'China Stack' formed a contrast to the monumentality of 'Paper, Glue, Paper'. 'China Stack' consisted of layers of fragile Chinese Calligraphy Rice Paper (the type used in schools to learn to write Chinese calligraphy characters) cut into a map of China. 'All the Tea in China', a stitched tea bag map of China makes reference to the history of the tea trade between Britain and China, a trade that Britain profited from at China's expense. The residency was a cultural exchange where Susan worked closely with Chinese artists at Shenghua and shared ideas and experiences. Experiences here led her to work in Taiwan two years later.