We are choofing away on the train again. Really fast. 304 k’s an hour at the moment, Beijing to Shanghai. A five hour trip. I remember doing this trip with our boys in a four berth apartment, traveling overnight. I think you can still do this, but the fast train is so convenient. And its great not getting on a plane all the time. Mike is happy his carbon footprint has been a tiny bit reduced and I suspect we are now destined to do a lot more train travel. We are in the first class, (business class is the top for comfort), as the seats are wider and have more space in front of them. The stations for this train are space age and when we get to Shanghai, the experience is streamline and efficient, all of us in a flow and out into an abundant line of taxis.
Two nights, two days in Beijing’s Yew Chung School – we worked really hard putting together 4 talks to the older secondary school students. Such a warm and friendly school. We were so welcomed and included and really looked after by the staff. It was great doing the talks too. In wanting to share the knowledge we thought we had, we learnt such a lot about ourselves as so much of our knowledge is autobiographical. In one of the subjects we discussed, we talked about our life as artists and trying to make it ‘happen’ for ourselves. It’s amazing how life and opportunities change. In our early years there seemed to be more time to take the time and really engage in the process of being an artist. It’s important from our perspective to put in the hard yakka, before you can expect to receive the accolades we all want. The process of growing artistically is a worthy journey and we love how it has honed us, shaping us into our greater selves and creating our artistic longevity.
On the other side of the coin today, there are so many possibilities and avenues for artistic growth for these kids and of course for ourselves too as we take it on. The internet for a start has made it really simple to get basic marketing done, as well as generating a whole new artform. Your art now reaches the whole world where once it was confined to the area you happened to be in or had access to. But you have to be innovative and competitive as everyone is out there on the same platform. Artists striving for recognition often use shock value in their art and can afford to be a flash in the pan, because that is all the notice they are likely to get these days anyway, unless they can be extraordinary enough to keep reinventing themselves ahead of the trends. For marketing and continued celebrity status Damien Hirst would have to be the master and perhaps it would be Hirst who has been the most influential today in changing how art connects to the public, the collectors and the art galleries. He, (or was it really Saatchi, his great benefactor), may have been the one who really turned the art world into an art industry. A path that is quite unromantic and as mercurial as today’s seasonal clothes fashions. There’s no limitation with art, nor with life, but I am very curious about how to still create depth and meaning in art for a society that is becoming as conditioned to fast art as it is with food.
Last night we went in to Capital M Beijing Restaurant where Michael completed a repair of a small tear in one of the big canvases of his mural. It was great seeing this work of his again. It’s a wonderful, truly luminous work. The colour is so rich, and intense, comprising many layers of the same colour in variations, its complexity contained by simplicity. Lovely and utterly engaging. Cameramen are constantly coming into the restaurant to do major shoots of important and famous people in front of the canvas and the artwork keeps appearing in magazines and newspapers. Nicole Kidman, Veronica Etro, were both in recently and it seems the list is long and growing. While we were there, one of the designers, Roger Hackworth, arrived from Hong Kong and sat down to a meal with us. It was gorgeous to see him in this luscious environment, at rest with it and completely besotted with his contribution to its beauty.