From July 15-August 15, 2016, I was artist-in-residence at the Shangyu Celadon Modern International Ceramic Art Center in Shangyu, China.
In historic times Shangyu was a very important ceramic location, archeologists have discovered about 400 kiln sites in and around the city. These sites date back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) and prove that Shangyu was the birthplace of porcelain and the cradle of celadon. The ceramic art center is a way to gain international awareness for this important heritage.
During the first year of their existence the center has received 19 international artists from the USA, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Curaçao. I was, together with Turkish artist Lale Dilbas and American artist Marc Leuthold, in the last group of the first year. At the same time there were 3 local artists working; Cui Jiuxiao (Joe), Gao Huilin and Wang Meng.
We received so much hospitality and friendship during our stay! The staff of the center organized special dinners and excursions for us. They took us to temples and museums. I will never forget our farewell party; a private music show on the roof terrace of the center with demonstrations of typical Chinese instruments like the zither and the erhu. Two Chinese opera singers sang some famous songs.
The most interesting excursion was when we went to one of the ancient kiln sites just outside Shangyu. We walked on 2000 year old shards, we could pick them up and study them up-close.
For me it was the first time I was in China. It is very interesting to be in such a different culture. They have such different customs (dinner starts with what I would consider dessert), different food (duck tongues, 100 year old eggs, fish heads, peanuts for breakfast), and different fashions (fantastic outfits on the scooter to protect against sun burn).
The clay was not easy to work with. There were several porcelains to choose from, all short and rubbery but they fired beautiful. The deal is that you donate half of what you make to the Shangyu Museum, the other half you may take home.
On September 30th, 2016, The First Shangyu Celadon Modern International Ceramic Exhibition opened its doors in the Shangyu Museum, with works of the visiting artists of the first year.