I spent a fantastic day with Vicky yesterday and have a hangover to remind me of it. That yellow wine (a bit like sherry) really does slip down too easily. We spent the day wandering round various markets – from the Insect, Bird and Plant Market at Laoximen where you can buy a pet cricket or purchase walnuts which have been painstakingly matched from hundreds (if not thousands) of others, to a four-storey tea mall (tasted tea that costs £1000 per kilo, bought tea that costs £10 per kilo), to the artsy, boutiquey Tianzifang shopping area which was bathed in moonlight by the time we arrived and felt quite magical (though that may have had something to do with the wine).
Fate has been very kind to allow me to meet Vicky again. We chatted and laughed non-stop all day. We talked a lot about the difficulties of making a living as an artist too. Han Feng, Vicky’s partner, is a case in point. He has had a fantastic couple of years – Saatchi has collected his work, he has shown in the Aichi Triennial and he is preparing for a big solo show in Shanghai, but money and opportunities are still a major concern. I asked if the couple have a similar experience to Darren and me, in that we have a nice mixture of both being asked to do things and applying for things. From what I could gather there doesn’t seem to be much of a mechanism for applying for things here and extra bits of work, like running workshops via galleries, are not an option. I’m sure it must be changing though – Ling Min’s hard work in getting the John Moores Painting Prize into China is surely a sign of that. I hope the pace of change speeds up for them.