My flight is at 8.40pm. I am flying with Cathay Pacific. I arrive in Hong Kong at 4.20pm on 1st November and then fly with Dragon Air to Xiamen, landing at 6.55pm where Ineke and May will meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.
These are the things that I know to be true that make me very excited about the trip
- It will be an incredible experience.
- You should do these sorts of things because they challenge you, that’s what life is all about.
- I want to make some ambitious artwork and this kind of experience can only be a good thing to help me do that.
- Three months isn’t as long as you’d think and I will see Andy even sooner when he comes to visit me 3 weeks before I go home.
- May and Ineke from CEAC have already been so nice and helpful when we’ve spoken via email.
- I am resourceful and capable and have made art that I am proud of in the past so there is nothing to say I can’t do that again.
These are the things that have gone through my head even though I know they are not true or mostly very unlikely:
- I have got my booking wrong, and actually booked flights for Oct 2015 instead.
- I will either miss my first flight or my connection. I will be sat in the wrong departure lounge or get the time wrong or something.
- I will forget something really important like my passport.
- I will get there and discover that CEAC doesn’t exist and it is all a big hoax.
- My apartment will be broken into and all my stuff taken.
- I will not be able to do the research I want to do and then not make any good art and everyone will be disappointed.
- I won’t make any good art, even if I do get to do the research I want to do and everyone will still be disappointed.
- I won’t make any friends
- I won’t be able to understand anything and I’ll be rubbish at Mandarin.
- I will make loads of art but it will then be destroyed, I’m not sure how, maybe in a fire?
- When I visit Shanghai I will get lost because I can’t map read in English let alone Mandarin.
- The cat will die while I am away.
- I will not be able to cope without seeing the last few episodes of Downton Abbey.
The problem is that the list of silly things that I am worried about is longer, however once I get to Xiamen I can rule out a few.
One of the reasons I decided to visit China was because of the massive changes that are happening there, in such as short space of time and how this is ultimately having an impact on the landscape in a way that I think will be inconceivable to me as someone living in the UK. When I became interested in scrap and the impacts of industry, it was always related to the visual effect of that, the way the landscape looks rather than questioning how that relates to people and whether it is ok.
After reading Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter the main points that have stuck with me are:
- Scrap/waste is caused by people who are able to waste because their income allows it. This includes an increasing number of people in China.
- People buy more than they really need because it makes them feel good and shops/ sellers present extra waste (packaging) to people because it is part of the buying experience, which also makes them feel good.
- If people want to keep buying in this way the manufacturing industry will continue to promote and support those behaviours.
- Recycling is not the answer. It causes much more harm than if the waste was not created in the first place. The recycling processes in countries like China harm people and the environment.
- The fact that we can recycle actually makes us waste more. Adam Minter gives the example of two experiments that were described in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the Consumer Psychology. This is one of them. He says “in the first, researchers asked study participants to evaluate a new product – in this case scissors – by cutting up paper in various preordained configurations. Half of the study participants did the study in the presence of a trash bin and the half did it in the presence of a trash bin and a recycling bin. The results were troubling, those who performed the task in the presence of a recycling bin used twice as much paper as those who could only throw their excess paper in the trash bin. “this suggests that the addition of a recycling option can lead to increased resource usage,” wrote the authors Jesse Catlin and Yitong Wang.”
The whole thing has made me think more about people and human nature than landscape. I can’t see myself making paintings that don’t involve landscape. I think a sense of place makes the viewer feel more grounded and able to understand the painting, but I like the idea that I can say something about my thoughts on this through painting or drawing.
My thoughts are that people need to be presented with an alternative to consuming so they can understand that buying lots of things, or new things for the sake of having something new will not bring lasting happiness. It is a culture change that is needed. This is a theory that I have been interested in for a while but it didn’t occur to me until now how closely it can relate to the landscape, especially in a place like China.
It would be interesting to create a list of things you can buy or spend your money on that don’t create waste. For example digital music rather than CDs and that’s an interesting one for me and Andy because we’re always going on about the value of buying a real CD rather than getting music through iTunes. Then again, buying an actual CD supports the artist who designed the artwork on the sleeve and that’s a good thing. I wonder if we didn’t consume so much what it would do to the local and global economy? I’ll see if I can find out more about that.
Back to Art, I’m not sure if I will paint scrap after all, but that’s the exciting thing about this residency, I’m really not sure what conclusions it will bring to my work, but I do know that am exhibiting with the CEAC from 9th January so by then I will have to produce something.
For Elena Thomas with leaking biro n’ all