Often overlooked, or even deliberately ignored, in Hong Kong, the arts and crafts of Japan have a rich diversity and demonstrate age-old skills and cultures that hold considerable fascination worldwide and are worthy of close attention.
The Friends Autumn Study Group will choose aspects of Japanese art and share their acquired knowledge by presentations to other participants. The term is likely to be from early October until early December depending upon the number of participants. We meet every Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Education Room of the Maritime Museum in Central and there is an optional lunch afterwards.
Any attempt to list a representative selection of Japanese arts and crafts would exceed the space allotted to this notice. What immediately spring to mind are the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige, woodblock prints by Utamaro, the art of the kimono, the tea ceremony, bonsai, inro and netsuke, origami, Shunga art and that of the Floating World, Tanuki, dressed dolls, mechanical toys, cloth wrapping, sword guards, Imari ware, painted screens, and elegant lacquerware. The list seems almost endless and presents a fascinating portion of what Japan has to offer to those seeking to learn and appreciate the country’s age old culture.
If you would like to join us in the Autumn, please send an expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
The influence of Western Art in China and the impact of Chinese Art in the West
Date: Tuesday mornings late September/early October until early December 2016. TBC
Time: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Venue: Maritime Museum, Pier 8, Central, HK.
European artistic styles first began to influence Chinese painting in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when European Jesuit missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Giuseppe Castiglione first began to enter China and serve at the Imperial Court. Many of these missionaries brought engravings, illustrated books and paintings with them and it was through these visual materials that the Chinese were first introduced to Western linear perspective and the use of shading to model forms (chiaroscuro).
The Dutch East India Company fleet in the 18th century comprised more than 200 ships and although there main cargo was spice the number of pieces of porcelain exported to Europe from China was astronomical. One ship alone was reported in 1634 as having carried 219,027 pieces and between 1604 and 1657 more than 3 million pieces reached the Netherlands. More arrived throughout Europe as trade with China increased. This trade had an enormous impact and changed the course of ceramic history. Traditional stoneware fell out of favour in Europe and technically superior and aesthetically more versatile Chinese products were both greatly admired and widely copied. Low fired ceramics decorated in blue on a white ground were produced in Delft and, once Johann Gottfried Bittger “reinvented” porcelain in 1709, high temperature kilns were set up at Meissen and elsewhere.
However it was not just blue and white that fed this demand for Chinoisserie. Everyone who could afford it wanted “something” Chinese in their home and from the mid 16th to late 17th centuries that demand was avidly met by trading companies such as the Dutch VOC and the British East India Company.
In his published books of designs Thomas Chippendale gave prominence to a Chinese style which not only encompassed the furniture that he would create but also the interior design to complement it. In architecture Chinese Chippendale was the name given to railings and balustrades resembling the designs of the cabinetmaker in his Chinese style work.
The traditional English country garden was surpassed by parks and gardens in Chinese style containing imitation temples and pagodas such as that in Kew Gardens in London. Even clothing fashions adopted an Oriental look. Such was the fascination with what was regarded at that time as the mysterious and, for most Westerners, a newly discovered world in the distant East. When originals could not be purchased copies were made so as to satisfy the acquisitiveness of those inspired by the hitherto unknown culture.
It was not, however, a one sided exchange. In the late 19th century the Manchu government sent students to the United States to study and learn from the West. France was recommended as the role model of modern civilisations by the Chinese government and a large number of Chinese painters went to Paris to widen their horizons and learn of post Impressionism art in Europe. Amongst their number were Lin Fengmian, Wu Guanzhong, Za Wou-ki and Pan Yuliang. It was Lin Fengmian who returned from Paris and established the 1st Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou teaching a new generation of artists before they too left for Europe to perfect their skills and pass on their knowledge.
In the 1950s until the late 1970s, Social Realism, the dominant artistic style in China at the time, drew attention to the conditions of the working class and the hardships of everyday life. The style was introduced into China by Konstantin Maksimov, a Soviet painter sent to China on an official exchange in 1955. His legacy not only had an impact upon students who studied with him but also on the Chinese art world as a whole.
The relationship of the Chinese artist Teng Baiye (1900-1980) and the American painter Mark Tobey (1890-1976) is yet another example of East meets West and the influence of one on the other.
Zhang Daqian established a friendship with Pablo Picasso and the two artists met in Cannes in 1956 when each exchanged examples of their own style of painting. The works of these two artists influenced by the other are now at auction the two most highly priced in the world.
In the Autumn term the Friends Study Group will explore this topic in depth.
To avoid duplication of effort you may like to know that presentations are already planned on Dunhuang wall paintings, the artistic exchanges between the French Louis XIV and the Kangxi emperor, Pan Yuliang, Walasse Ting and Chinese export wallpaper. However there are so many other examples not even mentioned above and we do hope you will join us for what seems set to be a fascinating journey of discovery.
For further information please contact Patrick Moss at email@example.com
|Title:Spring 2016 The Qing Dynasty 1644 to 1911|
Over the last three years the Study Group has considered, researched, and presented papers on the Chinese dynasties from the Han to the Ming. We enjoy choosing a subject, finding out as much as we can about it, and then preparing and presenting a paper. We do not take ourselves too seriously, but we do enjoy hearing what other members of the group have discovered and interacting with them in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a stimulating experience to learn so much history and art, particularly when one is part of a group which enjoys sharing such information. There is, of course, no requirement to attend each session in the term.
Like its predecessors, the Qing came to power on the back of rebellion and a loss of the Mandate of Heaven by the Ming emperors. Some 260 years later, it was to follow the same route to extinction, not just of the dynasty but also the empire. The country was in the process of changing forever. The change witnessed new styles in the decorative arts, influenced sometimes by burgeoning foreign trade and customs, but more frequently by “home grown” developments. As a result, artistic endeavours rose to a standard of quality hitherto unseen. Jade and ivory carving reached a peak of creativity and excellence, whilst lacquerware, seal carving, furniture design, and cloisonné* attracted collectors keen to acquire new masterpieces. Amongst the contemporaneous collectors was the Qinglong Emperor, whose acquisitiveness led to the creation of impressive collections, which even today never fail to impress. Painting took on Western influences, as shown by the style of individual artists such as Gong Xian and, to a lesser degree, by the court artists. The Lingnan school of artists thrived during the latter part of the dynasty. The advent of short stories, the composition of more broadly based poetry and the popularity of Peking opera all pointed to a rising, better educated, and healthier population. Romances such as “Dream of the Red Chamber” appealed to a more literate population, whilst a series of published encyclopedias and dictionaries may well have benefitted those who undertook the study and the rigorous requirements for the Imperial Examinations, which had been revised and reintroduced.
The Shenyang imperial palace in Liaoning created early in the dynasty and the later additions and improvements to the Forbidden City, all illustrate the developments in architecture. Industrialisation was making itself felt and weapons of war were being produced to meet the constant threat of rebellion and incursion by foreign powers. The White Lotus Rebellion, the Taiping Revolt, the Boxer Rebellions, and the Opium Wars all show vividly the collapse of the dynasty and the troubled times leading to the 1911 Revolution.
Inevitably the 260 years produced a number of personalities, all of whom made their own mark, for better or worse. They include: the Qianlong Emperor, the Dowager Empress Cixi,* Sun Yat Sen, Pu Yi*, Aurel Stein, Prince Dorgon, Gong Xian, Zeng Guofan, Liang Qichao, Sir Robert Hart*, Yuan Shi Kai, and Hong Xiuquan.
(Please note that those subjects marked * are already reserved)
We believe that there are many interesting skills, personalities, events, and achievements of the dynasty which would be fun to explore further. Do join us for what will be a fascinating and rewarding series of presentations on the Qing. You will not be disappointed.
Bookings and Enquiries:
Contact Patrick Moss at
|Title:Autumn 2015 The Ming Dynasty 1368 to 1644|
Over the last few years the Study Group has considered, researched and presented papers on the Chinese dynasties from the Han to the Huan. We all enjoy choosing a subject, finding out as much as we can about it and then preparing and presenting a paper on it. We do not take ourselves too seriously but we do enjoy hearing what other members of the group have discovered and interacting with them in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a stimulating experience to learn so much of history and art particularly when one is part of a group which enjoys sharing such information.
We have now reached yet another of the golden eras of Chinese history with the Ming Dynasty. It was an exciting time of great advances within China. An age of cultural, scientific and technological achievements which led China to the forefront of the known world. The development of the printing process encouraged the availability of the popular novel and classics such as The Journey to the West and Outlaws of the Marsh led to a growing literacy. Advances in medical science meant that people lived longer and were less prone to outbreaks of plague. Improvements in agriculture and agricultural tools increased harvests and led to better dietary health, Blue & White porcelain, jade and bamboo carving demonstrated the skills of Chinese craftsmen and architectural success in the creation of much of the Forbidden City, the reconstruction and completion of the Great Wall and the re-opening of the Grand Canal all demonstrated what could be done in an age of relative peace at least for the majority of the Dynasty. Advancement in weaponry and artillery made the army a force to be reckoned with and acted as a deterrent to unrest and revolt. Overseas trade prospered to hitherto unseen heights and Chinese vessels under Admiral Zheng He explored seas previously unknown to Chinese vessels and traders.
We believe that there are many interesting skills, personalities, events and achievements of the dynasty which merit further exploration or expansion upon those already made known. Do join us for what will be a fascinating and rewarding series of presentations on the Ming. You will not be disappointed!
Bookings and Enquiries:
Contact Patrick Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org
photo copyright Marilyn Shea 2005
|Title:Spring 2015: China under Foreign Occupation: the Yuan Dynasty 1260 to 1368|
The Yuan Dynasty was the shortest of the major Chinese dynasties. To some it has been regarded as a time of occupation by the Mongol “hordes” and a “blip” in the development of China. However, despite its comparative brevity, its dramatic rise and even more tortuous fall, the Dynasty left its mark on history in ways which, with the benefit of hindsight, are noteworthy as indicators of the development of the country, its cultural advancement and its governance. They are not all bad!
Since government positions of power became difficult to obtain, the literati were able to express themselves in a more independent manner, as they were no longer obliged to “toe the party line”. Their work, such as that of the Four Masters of the Yuan, whether it was poetry, painting or any other art form, benefitted from their ability to indulge in self-expression rather than immediate visual appeal. The influence of Middle Eastern Islamic art and architecture, medicine, cartography, ornamentation resulted from the role that Muslims, particularly from Persia, played within the Yuan administration.
Presentation topics might include the birth of the novel, for example ‘The Water Margin’, the beginnings of opera, drama and puppetry, the growth of Buddhist art particularly from Tibet (which can be seen in the current Dunhuang exhibition), the Mongol courier system, the creation of a textile industry, the Red Turbans rebellion (origin of Moon Cakes), astronomy & astrology, the cultural habits of the Mongols as opposed to those of the Han, religious tolerance and the growth of new religions and, of course, personalities such as Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan, Zhu Yuanzhong, Marco Polo (again) and Liu Binzhong the architect of Dadu (Beijing).
Study Group meets every Tuesday at 10 a.m. Each participant researches and prepares a 30 to 45 minute presentation on their chosen topic within the main theme. Two presentations are usually presented each Tuesday.
Bookings and enquiries: Contact Patrick Moss at email@example.com
|Title:Autumn 2014: The Song Dynasty 960 to 1279|
Fifty years of strife followed the Tang Dynasty until the Song re-established unity. China enjoyed peace for three centuries leading to intellectual, artistic and technical innovation. While Europe endured the dark ages, China was the leading society in the world. Nothing Marco Polo saw in his travels compared with the agricultural productivity, industrial technology, urbanization and standard of living in China at that time. Painting, literature and philosophy flourished and fine artifacts were produced. Expansion of the civil service examination system led to a large class of scholarly elite and printing allowed families to read and collect books. Literacy, increased prosperity and changes in the legal system opened new possibilities for women while at the same time, foot binding and Neo-Confucianism limited their lives. Song emperors were successful diplomats but in 1127 they were forced south to Hangzhou where they ruled for another one and a half centuries before being defeated by the Mongols.
Presentation topics might include Northern Rivals – Liao, Jin, Xi Xia and the Mongol Empire, Emperor Taizu, Marco Polo and other foreign visitors, science and technical innovations, the architecture of pagodas, the Beijing Qingming Schroll, Ju ware ceramics, Tiger Cave Kiln and Guan ware, women’s lives, apparel, or the outlaw – Song Jiang.
|Title:Spring 2014 : The Tang Dynasty 618 TO 907|
This period, considered a golden age of cosmopolitan culture, will provide us with a wealth of information to research and describe. The Tang Dynasty was one of the greatest empires in the medieval world, and an open and fruitful period of Chinese history. During this time foreign influences from India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Korea and Japan affected Chinese culture and art. Well-documented, with many artifacts still in existence, study of the Tang Dynasty will offer participants a wide variety of choice in topics.
These might include terracotta figures, landscape painting, wood block printing, the Beitung shipwreck, foreign influence and expansion, clothes and fashion, Tang women, eunuchs, Nestorian Christianity, Manicheism, the Tang legal code, horses, public works, agricultural practices and the military rebellion of 755-763.
Study Group meets every Tuesday at 10:00 AM at the Helena May on Garden Road. Each participant researches and prepares a 30 to 45 minute presentation on a selected topic. Two topics are usually presented each Tuesday.
Enquiries and registration: Contact Susan Kreidler at firstname.lastname@example.org