Monday, December 16, 2013

Drawer # 3.7 : Coral by Sand & by Design

This drawer, with its bits of coral collected on a beach on the Chinese island of Hainan, came to mind as I walked today along a different beach, this one at the edge of a small fishing village on the coast of the South China Sea, just west of Shenzhen. I had imagined, while I packed to come here, sunny weather, temperatures in the mid-70's. But it's raining. And, in order to stay warm in the chill wind, I'm wearing just about everything I brought in my suitcase. Still, it is quite lovely in the quiet emptiness - so unusual for China! - walking along the beach bathed in the violet light cast by my new purple umbrella, purchased at the single shop in Guan He village, the Guan He Department Store, a proper old-fashioned five & dime.

I'm here as one of 6 artists invited for the inaugural residency at iDtown, "an arts district betweens the mountains & the sea." We arrived last Tuesday to find studios not quite ready (surprise) for occupancy but the former factory compound has been wonder enough, leaving me too gobsmacked to even shoot many photos. I'll post more about the factory & the other artists soon but for now here's the view from my studio box out to the end of the studio building, including one of the "la feng" (chinese for "cool") bicycles we use for the 5 minute ride between village & factory...when it's not sheeting down with rain, that is...

The two circular objects included in the drawer are cast ceramic filters for I-know-not-what, purchased in a shop full of other unidentifiable ceramic wonders. Their delicacy & the logic of their design appear to me as the human mind channeling the cleverness of the natural world's design.

In good weather, the village beach is crowded with the froth of brides posing for wedding photos. At the farthest end, there are a series of tableaus, mixing up, like this drawer, the natural & the man-made, in one direction the sea, in the other a factory, plastic gardens in between.

The natural world the manufactured world the invented world colliding into each other...

Drawer #3.7: From top, boxes 1, 2 & 4:  coral collected on Hainan beach; box 3: particle filters made of cast porcelain purchased in the hardware market in Shanghai. Drawer liners: chinese brocade in wave pattern.
Photo credit for full drawer: Bruno David; all others are mine.

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