17 April, 2011 : China Trip
It is our first trip to China this year. We have been waiting to get over the hurdle of hosting the Shanghai Art Museum curators in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, We had a good time with the rather adventurous curators who were game to try the rather exotic durian.
After their trip, we have a sense of the dates of the show and what is likely to be exhibited. The main goal for this China trip was to find our PR company for our upcoming show in August.
We interviewed about 6 companies and I am happy as I think we have found our person. There were many companies that were good and can do the job but there was one that I think can deliver beyond PR. They were impressive in that they knew and had worked with the Shanghai Art Museum, the stories they thought off were very similar to stories we had in mind and how they method of execution was very similar to what we were thinking. By all counts it looks like they can deliver.
We also managed to further our progress with our “Huang Yao and Friends” digital exhibition, which will be shown at 2 smaller animation fairs in China before we bring it to a larger audience. Again, Uncle Zhang has been instrumental in introducing us to the descendants of other cartoonists and given us invaluable advice. He is such a generous man. We had a real treat this trip as well as he invited us to his home and we got to see the living room of Sanmao. Never in my life would I have imagined this.
We were also so fortunate that we could catch the exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum of Hua Junwu, another of my grandfather’s friends. Again the photo of the four good cartoonists friends were used, which had my granddad in it, I think this image to date is the largest version of this photo I have seen. My grandfather, along with his friends have been blown up to an 8 foot giant size image. It still feels surreal. I am sorry that in my journey I had not learnt about the group of friends of my grandfather soon enough and did not get to meet some of my granddad’s friends who were definitely still alive to meet. That is my loss.
The hard bit now is to pull the digital work together and hopefully with the agreement of the descendants of the cartoonists of the1930s, we would have a digital exhibition that will take the first step in modernizing some of the works. I am so glad we have our trademarks now firmly in place, our lawyers did a good job and have also helped out with a lot of pro bono work. Again we were lucky to come across a Malaysian lawyer who works in a top three ranking law firm who is interested in the arts.
We did meet also a number of people that we could use as consultants to help in our thinking of several other projects that we would like to implement and on a more fun side, we met a design company that has the smarts to take on old brands or icons and through their creativity have a twist to renew something old into something that is relevant today. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. While speaking to the creative director, I could hear the words of my grandfather tumbling out of her mouth, again a surreal moment in this trip.
We did get two fun side trips as well, we went to Hangzhou by speed train, I have not sat in one since I lived in Japan, it was really very pleasant, I can’t wait to do the Beijing – Shanghai route by train. This trip is truly trains, planes and strange automobiles. We met with the Director of the Zhejiang Art Museum and it’s an impressive building they have. If all goes well, we’ll have an exhibition there too.
The other fun trip we had was in Beijing where we went to see the War Resistance Museum, the curator was introduced to us by the British Museum, it was rather far from the city but it was very lifelike, it was a hard time for the Chinese people and it was one of the events that changed my grandfather’s life. It must have been hard to see so much suffering when life can be different.
We got to walk across the Marco Polo bridge and it is not a small bridge, it is rather long and must have been such a marvel a thousand years ago, it was a marvel to me in this time and age.
So, after 12 days of being in China, I unwittingly chose the most busy day to travel back to Singapore along with millions of holiday makers on their May holiday. As my taxi pulled up to the airport, I listened to the broadcast of Premier Wen’s visit to Malaysia and wondered if he too has tried our wonderful durian?