It’s been a difficult week, but whenever I do this to myself, when I put myself in a position where I have to deliver on something that I am honestly not sure I can do successfully and I get very stressed and start to wonder what I was thinking in the first place, I also think, this is just 6 weeks of my life and the experience I have during this time, whether it is good or bad, will last a lifetime and teach me more in just 6 weeks than I would ever learn in 6 months doing my usual bumbling around.
I had my workshop last weekend and it went well. The day before, Chen Wei and I went to his friend’s printing factory to get the coloured paper that we had bought cut into strips using his huge guillotine.
The participants at the workshop were, as expected, very quick when it came to learning all the quilling techniques that I taught them in the morning. In the afternoon I was both pleased and disappointed. Pleased because everyone immediately got into using the really big quilling strips and were not afraid to make something big and abstract, but a bit disappointed as not many made jewellery or very small things and they didn’t really try to think about how they could use quilling to make other objects from daily life. I could tell they were all enjoying themselves though, and apart from being relieved about that, they did make some interesting things. One girl did make a pot and it was really good, better than the example I made I think. Zhi Fei told me that this girl was a designer and I’m not surprised.
On Monday I phaffed about and began to build my wall installation, using the quillings that the students made in the workshop. I didn’t make much progress, I didn’t like the design I was creating on the wall much and I started to get stressed. On Monday night I had bad dreams. On Tuesday morning I had my Mandarin class and it takes an hour to get there and an hour to get back as well, so I could have done without it a bit. I continued with the wall installation and it got a little bit better, but I still wasn’t happy. On Tuesday night it started raining heavily and it didn’t stop. On Wednesday morning the water had come through the windows in the kitchen, which are not sealed properly and there was a mini flood on the kitchen floor. It hadn’t stopped raining. My shoes have holes in them (I am hoping Andy will buy me some new ones for Christmas) so I had wet feet all day. I brought dry socks to C Platform because I knew it was going to happen. I made some animations with some of the small quilling produced in the workshop and continued building my wall art, which was still driving me crackers because it was just not right.
At about 6pm I was still at C Platform with Chen Wei and there was a call from Aaf to say that the electricity in the flat was off. We decided to eat at C Platform and go home even later as there wasn’t much point in me going home to sit in the dark anyway. When we got home I went to Chen Wei’s to use the internet and drink some tea before going back to my flat. Aaf went to stay with her friend (I didn’t blame her). It was still raining just as heavily as when the rain began. The rain was starting to stress me out as much as the wall art. I’ve never experienced such relentless heavy rain before. When I got home there was a man at my door who tried to speak to me but I didn’t understand him, I called Chen Wei who came round. The man was from the next door apartment. The other apartments on my floor also had floods and broken electricity. We all have the same landlord who wasn’t even in Xiamen and clearly not bothered. The man wanted to try to turn the electricity back on but he wanted us to take all the plugs out of the sockets first in case something was not right. The electricity was back on! So I was able to get on top of the new flood in the kitchen before I went to bed and prepare for a night of more rain. The electricity went off again about 3 hours later. When I woke up the next morning it was sunny. I cleaned up the kitchen for the last time. It doesn’t usually rain like that this time of year.
On Thursday Yi (one of the C Platform designers) photographed people wearing the jewellery that had now been made by some of the other C Platform designers and by me previously. I continued with my wall installation but after all the electricity and flood problems I was beginning to take everything a bit less seriously. Chen Wei and I worked out where all the display plinths and other things would go and it felt a bit better. I had to go to my Mandarin class in the afternoon and I had arranged to meet with May and Weina after that. I felt I should have stayed at C Platform but I really needed the break. I left Chen Wei and the other staff hanging up the jewellery on the walls.
It was such a relief to meet with Weina and May. I really needed to talk with some good friends and we had a really lovely time. Last year we all went to a cat café and May knew about another one called ‘Baby Cat’ in her neighbourhood. It has a sister café on Gulangyu that has this massive cat, which was a bit of a local legend. It turned out, however that the new ‘Baby Cat’ cafe only sold biscuits. We went for something to eat instead and then to another coffee shop. There are loads and loads of really cool coffee shops in May’s neighbourhood. The one we went to sold ‘Tea Pigs’ tea (the small ethical company) and it had completely stolen the name and brand for the whole café. I wonder if Tea Pigs know, or if they care, or if they would be able to do anything about it anyway.
Last year Weina was making a book as an art project which showed images and told stories about couples. She interviewed Andy and me and took our photo for the book. She also spoke to young Chinese couples on the street, asking them questions about how they got together and what the think about marriage etc. The book is called ‘Tell me what Love is’. Weina brought the book for me to have a look at. It is really interesting, I was completely hooked on reading the Chinese stories. I actually forgot to read what she wrote about Andy and me! I have since bought a copy from her, at cost price as actually she’s not selling them, she only has one copy and she is getting mine printed before I leave.
I had a call from Chen Wei in the evening to say that someone was going round to fix the electricity. When I got home it was working! When I woke up in the morning it was off again. My fringe goes a bit funny when I don’t have use of a hairdryer. I went to C Platform and saw that Chen Wei had hung the jewellery and assembled a corner of the gallery with a shredding machine that shredded strips into a pile on the floor. It was really good! Six students from the university on ZhanZhou, who I had taught quillng last year turned up and I got them making experimental work on paper with ink using quilling techniques and some more jewellery. They made some really good stuff and along with some lovely quilled numbers that Yi made, it plugged the gap from the work that wasn’t made in the workshop.
I finished my wall installation and was finally happy with it. It helped also, speaking to Aaf the night before, when I told her it was difficult because I was not using my own quilling for the installation, rather the quilling of all of the participants from the workshop, so the design was not really as I would have had it if it had been me making the quilling. She suggested I make it clear to the exhibition visitors, so I wrote something to go with the wall and also the animations that I made, along with an exhibition introduction for the exhibition entrance. By early afternoon on Friday I was finished.
Chen Wei had put up the photographs of people wearing the jewellery and another of his designers had made this fantastic animation for us to show, which was inspired by quilling and looked like it was made from paper strips. Two of the students spent all day finishing their quillings for the exhibition. One made a really beautiful necklace and another quilled a head of a girl that looked just like her, wearing the same bobble hat that she was wearing herself. We had commented that the way it was knitted looked like it was quilled. They were still there chatting with Chen Wei when I left at 6pm, completely stress free by then and unable to remember how anxious I had felt before the exhibition had started to come together. I walked home with Zhi Fei, who I have really not mentioned enough considering she has been such a good friend to me and made a great impression on me for all sorts of reasons, not always right to write about on my blog.
When I got home there was no electricity again but I didn’t care too much as I felt so happy that everything was finished and I was happy with it. I went for Shau Kau (BBQ) on the street which is so good! You pick the foodyou want, which is stuck on wooden sticks and put it into a basket and then had it over and they BBQ it and bring you each stick as it is ready, cooked with nice spicy stuff. I then went to a lovely coffee shop to use the internet. Chen Wei came round once I was back, to give Aaf and me some battery powered lamps that he had charged and hot water that he had boiled. In the morning the electricity was fixed for good.
Here is my exhibition intro and the pictures.
Quilling is the art of rolling and manipulating narrow strips of paper to create beautiful designs. This historic craft was first known to be practiced by catholic nuns in Europe in the 17th century and it is now enjoying a modern revival. Josie Jenkins is an artist based in Liverpool, UK, whose focus is to pass on the heritage of quilling and also to inspire modern uses for this versatile paper craft.
The Open Coil workshop at C Platform provided a masterclass in traditional quilling techniques and then challenged the participants to consider how these skills could be used to create experimental artworks and 3D design. This exhibition features work made by the participants of the workshop.
The ‘Open Coil’ exhibition begins to explore how the historical craft of quilling can be used to create contemporary art and design and provides visitors the opportunity to participate in creating their own ideas.
Tomorrow is the Open Coil Salon at the local bookshop. Apparently there are a lot of people booked onto it. We’re going to make a simple quilled bookmark after I talk. Yuping is interpreting for me. I have been trying to explain what a ‘coat of arms’ is.