“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Craig Clunas on Looking at Chinese Painting – Asia House, 10/4/18

Posted: May 4th, 2018 | No Comments »

Professor Craig Clunas: Looking at Looking at Chinese Painting

May 10 18:4521:00
Asia House, Marylebone, London W1

Dr Craig Clunas discusses Chinese painting and its audiences.

Left: Cover of Chinese Painting and Its Audiences, Right: Chen Shizeng, Viewing Picture (1917)

Professor Craig Clunas is a major figure in the field of Art History; specialising in Chinese art and culture from the Ming dynasty to the present day. His current research deals with the transnational history of Chinese art from 1911 to 1976.

In this lecture for Asia House, Professor Clunas will share his brilliant insights into individual Chinese paintings selected from his book,  Chinese Painting and Its Audiences, listed as one of “The Best Art Books of 2017” by The New York Times and the London Evening Standard.

Professor Clunas will examine a remarkable range of Chinese images, from the 15th century to the 21st, to explain the changing audiences for Chinese painting and to look at the ideal types of viewer these pictures were made for. This lecture will look at some of the themes of this innovative book and at the changing audience for Chinese painting – from the scholars of the Ming period to the mass audience of present-day museum goers.

Exploring the complex relationships between works of art and those who look at them, Chinese Painting and Its Audiences sheds new light on how the concept of Chinese painting has been formed and reformed over hundreds of years.

About: Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, Professor Clunas has published extensively on the art history and culture of China.  Much of his work concentrates on the Ming period (1368-1644), with additional teaching and research interests in the art of 20th century and Contemporary China. He has worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and taught art history at the University of Sussex and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

He is the author of Art in China  (1997, second edition 2009) in the Oxford History of Art Series, and his other books include Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China (1991); Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China (1996); Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (1997); Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559 (2004); Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China, 1368-1644 (2007), based on the 2004 Slade Lectures, and Screen of Kings: Art and Royal Power in Ming China (2013); several of these books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

More details and tickets here

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The Peak: An Illustrated History of Hong Kong’s Top District

Posted: May 3rd, 2018 | No Comments »

Lovely book on the Peak just out from Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong, by Richard Garrett, and part of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series…

The Peak is Hong Kong’s top residential district, where property prices are as high as the altitude. How did it become an exclusive enclave in the bustling business centre of 19th-century Asia?

The British wanted relief from summer heat and the Peak was the obvious place to escape it. When the Governor adopted Mountain Lodge as a summer getaway, development accelerated and the opening of the Peak Tram in 1888 made access easier. Gradually a community developed and a church, a club and a school were established.

This book describes how the now-popular tourist area developed over time and adapted as needs changed.

Click here for more details and to order

 

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Finding Kukuan on PBS – 8 May 2018

Posted: May 2nd, 2018 | No Comments »

The excellent documentary Finding Kukan will be screened on PBS in America on May 8th – see here for details

if you don’t know this great film here’s the details….

Filmmaker Robin Lung documents her 7-year journey investigating the work and legacy of Chinese American visionary Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited producer of Kukan. A landmark film, Kukan showcased China’s resistance to Japanese occupation during World War II, and was one of the first American feature documentary films to receive an Academy® Award in 1942.

Lung discovers a badly damaged film print of Kukan, which had been lost for decades, and pieces together the inspirational tale of the two renegades behind its making — Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott. Relentless, Ling-Ai was determined to shift America’s perception of the Chinese plight by telling the story from a new point-of-view and not only hired Scott but sponsored the rare enterprise. Finding Kukan uses vintage and unseen archival footage to create an unforgettable portrait of a filmmaking pioneer, and shed a light on the longstanding underrepresentation of women and people of color in the movie-making business.

Finding Kukan is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.

 

 

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Hidden in Plain View: Chinese Wallpapers in Britain and Ireland – China Exchange, London 16/5/18

Posted: May 1st, 2018 | No Comments »

 

18:30 to 19:30
China Exchange, Gerard Street, Soho, London
Click above for more details and rsvp

Join expert Emile de Bruijn as he enriches our understanding of Chinese wallpaper and explains how Europeans fell for them, how the Chinese market and artisans responded to this new demand, the original meanings and contexts of Chinese paintings, prints and wallpapers, and the way they are used in British and Irish interiors from the late seventeenth century onward.

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The Midnight in Peking Walking Tour is back this Saturday (28/4/18)

Posted: April 26th, 2018 | No Comments »

The legendary (well, almost) Midnight in Peking walking tour brought to you by Bespoke Beijing, Lars from Beijing Postcards and made official by Penguin China (and me) is back this Saturday with cocktails at the Beijing Hotel too and books….a few tickets only left I’m told….

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Heads up – Buffalo Bill Goes to China – Jeff Wasserstrom at the British Library – 9/5/18

Posted: April 25th, 2018 | No Comments »

Buffalo Bill Goes to China

Discover the strange story of when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show performed a major Chinese uprising

Roll up, roll up for historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s exploration of Buffalo Bill’s 1901 Wild West Show. What can a strange yet spectacular re-enactment of an anti-Christian uprising in China tell us about America’s understanding of the country?

English and French troops attack the Boxers. Colour-printed battle scene, China, woodblock printed in the style of a new-year print. Originally published/produced in China, c.1900.

In April 1901, at Madison Square Garden, New York City, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show performed a re-enactment of an episode in the Boxer Rebellion, the fierce anti-Christian uprising that had triggered an international invasion of China, involving troops marching behind the flags of eight different nations and empires, including Britain, the United States, Russia, Germany and Japan. The entertainment essentially reworked earlier re-enactments of the ‘Ghost Dance Rising’, with the Native American cast members now playing Chinese militants, and the white cowboys on horseback becoming cavalry from different lands.

Historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom digs deeper into this fascinating cultural moment, and compares it to an Earl’s Court re-enactment of related Chinese events that was staged the same spring. He uses examination of these shows to explore the complex and distinctive ways America’s growing interest(s) in China were understood and articulated at the beginning of the 20th century. Some audience members, who had been scandalised by reports of the Boxers’ killing of Christians, were delighted to see the insurgents bested on stage. Others were less comfortable with this version of events, including Mark Twain, who viewed the Boxers as ‘traduced patriots’ and left the opening night performance in disgust. Join Professor Wasserstrom as he tells the story of Buffalo Bill’s imaginary trip to China, and reflect on what this episode teaches about America’s relationship to China, then and now.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

More details here

 

 

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China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State, 1842–1965

Posted: April 24th, 2018 | No Comments »

Philip Thai’s new history of smuggling in China looks very interesting….

Smuggling along the Chinese coast has been a thorn in the side of many regimes. From opium concealed aboard foreign steamships in the Qing dynasty to consumer commodities like nylon stockings and wristwatches trafficked in the People’s Republic, contests between state and smuggler have exerted a surprising but crucial influence on the political economy of modern China. Seeking to consolidate domestic authority and confront foreign challenges, the state introduced tighter regulations, higher taxes, and harsher enforcement. These interventions sparked widespread defiance, triggering further coercive measures: smuggling simultaneously threatened the state’s power while inviting repression that strengthened its authority.

Philip Thai chronicles the vicissitudes of smuggling in modern China—its practice, suppression, and significance—to demonstrate the intimate link between coastal smuggling and the amplification of state power. China’s War on Smuggling shows that the fight against smuggling was not a simple law enforcement problem but rather an impetus to centralize and expand regime control. The smuggling epidemic gave Chinese states pretext to define legal and illegal behavior, and the resulting constraints on consumption and movement remade everyday life for individuals, merchants, and communities. Drawing from varied sources such as legal cases, customs records, and popular press reports and including diverse perspectives from political leaders to frontline enforcers, organized traffickers, and petty runners, Thai traces how different regimes sought to police maritime trade and the unintended consequences their campaigns unleashed. China’s War on Smuggling shows how defiance helped the state redefine its power, offering new insights into modern Chinese social, legal, and economic history.

 

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City of Devils – Hong Kong Launch at Bookazine – 24/4/18

Posted: April 23rd, 2018 | No Comments »

if you’re in Hong Kong tomorrow (Tuesday 24/4/18) do come along and say hello…..

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