Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bingeing in Brighton


I had a lovely day out in Brighton.  First a visit to Louisa at Oriental Arts, had fun trying different papers.  Naturally I bought a couple more brushes, and also spotted, to my delight a ruyi sceptre – I have wanted one for ages!  Louisa says it is “village made”, so not quite Qing bling.

Amazing glaze by James Foley, Potters Bar Brighton
Also visited some of the Artists Open Houses, including Jing Wang‘s demonstration of CBP.    At Potters Bar I also indulged in some more ceramics, because they make perfect brush pots and water droppers!
Pots by Gill Harvey of Chalk and Flint Ceramics

Spring View

Another attempt at translating Chinese Poetry: Du Fu‘s melancholy “Spring Scene” written during the chaos and destruction  of the An Lushan rebellion.
There are many different translations, for example.
This is mine:
Mountains round the ruined city,
Spring-grown grass on walls and towers.
Weeping in the time of flowers,
Birdsong jars the parted heart.
Three long months the beacons burned,
No gold worth a loving letter.
White head thinned by fearful fretting,
Cannot hold a single pin.

Hills Like Heaped Gold

I have had fun recently trying to translate a ci-poem by Wen Tingyun, poet of the late Tang dynasty.   Ci-poems have a “tune” that guides their rhythm and rhyme.  There are many such tunes.  This poem is based on the tune called “Deva-like Barbarian” or “Bodhisattva Savage”.

Hills like heaped gold are quenched,
Her cloud of hair loves the scent of her powdered cheek.
Languidly she draws in her moth eyebrows,
Plays with her hairpins and comb, washing slowlyBlooms surround her in the mirror.
The faces of the flowers seem like the reflections of friends
Newlywed, she dutifully embroiders the gauze jacket
With a pair of golden partridges.

File:Zhou Fang. Court Ladies Wearing Flowered Headdresses.Detail1.jpg
Ladies wearing Flower in their Hair by Zhou Fang

A Gleam of Light

Another enjoyable woodblock printing course with Laura Boswell creating glowing lanterns.

Chinese Lanterns print (c) A Reich
I mounted some paintings, including a field of poppies and these poison arrow frogs from 2016!
Poison Arrow Frogs (c) A Reich
Flowers raining red (c) A Reich

Spring Scenes

by Jin Nong, Qing
“Sui Chao” refers to the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year.   It is traditional to hang Spring Festival Paintings, as a wish for a safe and auspicious new year.

Spring Festival Paintings typically contain a range of items which would not occur together in reality, such as spring blossom and autumn fruit. The items depicted have significant auspicious meanings, with natural and man-made objects mixed together. For example vases mean peace, firecrackers and teapots signify the arrival of the new year.

More modern paintings by Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi show the continuation of the tradition.

by Wu Changshuo, late Qing
by Xu Gu, Qing
by Qi Baishi, Republic
by Wang Xuetao, Republic

You can see more examples here.
I teach a workshop on Sui Chao paintings, so if you are interested, contact me. Here is one of mine:

Pride and Jue

I was browsing a local antique fair when I spotted a familiar shape – a Chinese Jue!  A Jue is one of the many shapes of ancient ritual vessels made in bronze, eg this one in the Met.
The Chinese often copied the shapes in other materials – ceramic, cloisonne, jade.  So this one is a modern stone copy of the old shape.  As I am a lover of bronzes, I thought this would be a fun addition to my shelves.
Shining light through the stone shows its mossy green look.
the British Museum has collected some contemporary jade carvings, including a Jue, and Christies auctioned this one.
So good to know that I am following tradition!