UNE Chinese Calligraphy Showcase 2019

Rebecca Samways - artist reflection 

For Every Moment There Is A Season

Inspired by the seasons, each scroll signifies one season, represented through the changing blossom and pine trees and a short phrase related to the season. Summer - the moment of embracing , Autumn – separate moments, Winter – a moment to cry, Spring – the moment of laughter.

When creating my work, I wanted to design the scrolls so they could be displayed as a whole or separately throughout the year. To achieve this, I focused on balancing the design of the calligraphy to ensure the scrolls balanced together and separately. It was initially difficult to work with the rice paper as it was absorbing the calligraphy ink much faster, making the edges unclear, so the ink needed to be the correct consistency before writing the characters on the final work and I also couldn’t use too much ink for the calligraphy. To ensure the shape and location of the characters were correct I used a grid under the rice paper.

Each scroll is wet mounted with a rice paper backing which I did after the scrolls dried for a day. When doing the wet mounting there were a few difficulties, including the ink running when brushing on the paste and mounting the scrolls without creases or wrinkles. As the ink smudged when I brushed on the paste I was unable to make sure the paste was as smooth and even as I would have liked before applying the backing which meant I had some creases and bubbles. While I had some difficulties with the mounting I feel that some more practice and allowing the ink to dry longer would improve the wet mounting.

Aileen Young - artist reflection

Reflection

My exhibition piece is a bible verse, from Song of Songs, Chapter 2 vs 4. The Song of Songs is

a love song between God and his people. The banner is a representation of the protection of

God’s love and I am comforted and safe under it.

I added 3 seals. The first seal, shàng dì, represents God as the author and original owner of

the verse. The second, fù mu, represents the ownership my parents had of this verse. Their

banner over me was love. The third seal, fù qi, represents husband and wife. My husband

and I took ownership of the verse when we married. His banner over me is love and mine

over him.

Methodology

I poured Plaster of Paris into 3 moulds and left it to set overnight. I then carved Seal script

into the plaster and sealed it, with 2 layers of the acrylic ink, before use. I then made a banner

from Calico and attached my calligraphy with vliesofix (an iron on adhesive, used to fix fabric

to fabric). I made the character for love more prominent because, of course, love is the most

important thing of all.

Sharman Pretty - artist reflection

The Music of Calligraphy

Against the background of a career as a musician and music educator, when I began studying calligraphy a few months ago I was quickly struck by the similarities between the execution of the disciplines of music and calligraphy. Creating each stroke of the brush reminded me of creating a musical performance - the intense concentration required to seek perfection at every attempt; the overwhelming sense that however good the outcome, it was never good enough; and the long hours of solitary concentrated practice required to master even the most basic technical passages.

A little investigation confirmed that I am certainly not the first person to observe and experience this correlation. For example, in his seminal work on the disciplines, philosophies and techniques of calligraphy in Imperial China, Jean

Francois Billeter (2010) notes a number of analogies between music and calligraphy, including the use of an “instrument” to create the art of interpretation (for example, a brush, and a violin bow), the unforgiving act of creating a brush stroke or sounding a note that is impossible to retract once executed, and the parallel between the three “moments” of creating a brush stroke or a musical note - attack, development and ending.

Viewing calligraphy practice through the lens of the discipline of music has assisted me in locating this new and very challenging discipline into a somewhat more familiar space.

The aim of this final project is to attempt to visually capture this intersection.

Damien DiMedio - artist reflection

For my final project, I wanted to create something that I could hang in my home for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to be able to remind myself of the time I spent learning Chinese calligraphy, and secondly, I wanted to be able to use it as a talking point when guests visit our home.

At first, I was unsure about how to do calligraphy on timber so I practiced on numerous different types of timber and surfaces, and I also tried using different mediums including acrylic paint, ink, and a mixture of the two. I found that by using acrylic paints, the effect was much different than using ink, so I used ink and the same calligraphy brush used on paper. I prepared the surface of the timber with sandpaper so that it was porous enough to absorb the ink, but fine enough not to allow the ink to run too much. I practiced the four characters on paper before writing on the timber. After writing the characters on the timber, some areas needed to be re-done as the ink was not always equally black. I also used my stamp on the top right corner to give it an authentic look. After allowing the ink to dry, I applied thee coats of varnish (透明的漆 😃) to protect the timber and the surface.

I chose an idiom that reflected a meaning that I embrace in my own personal life and wanted to convey to others. I did not previously know this idiom, but after searching for a suitable one, I came across it and felt that it was extremely appropriate for what I wanted. I also wanted an idiom that was not too common, so as to add a feel of profundity.

Eric Blue - artist reflection

For my final artwork i chose to paint the idiom 一路顺风. I lived and worked in China for 5 years and diligently studied Chinese during my time there. My first teacher was the wife of my Chinese boss and this was the first idiom that i ever learnt. Interestingly enough it was also the last thing that my boss said to me when he dropped me off at the airport to fly home. It has a special place in my heart. The uncomplicated nature of the characters also appealed to me as sometimes there is real beauty in simplicity. Each individual stroke is crucial in simple characters.

My home is full of timber so I thought that a timber sign on the back of my front door was a perfect way to bid farewell to guests. I have a friend that owns a local timber mill, so i had him slab me a piece of Mulga from a log i had in my yard. Mulga is incredibly slow growing wattle that is dense and very colourful. I cut it to size, rounded the edges then sanded it back using ascending grits to close the grain on the timber. I used polyurethane to completely seal the pores of the timber. I created a practice piece of timber to adjust to the feel of the brush on the sealed timber as it’s completely different to rice paper. I used my calligraphy brush with black acrylic paint to produce the

characters. The thickness of the paint was quite an issue and it was difficult to produce clean strokes but with much effort I feel I achieved nice characters. I drew a grid in lead pencil as a guide to ensure the characters were correctly positioned and balanced.

Georgina Perkins - artist reflection

人往高处走,水往低处流 is a Chinese idiomatic phrase that translates literally to ‘people walk to toward the highest point, water flows toward the lowest point.’ In a less literal sense, it means that one seeks their way up just as water seeks a way down, and is used in the sense that one should always be striving to make continuous progress. I feel like this phrase is representative of my attitude to many things I pursue, but definitely in regard to Chinese calligraphy. I have some of the practice sheets left over from our first intensive school and I found it amazing how much I actually improved over the course of the semester.

In this piece of work all the characters were modelled off the work of Tian YingZhang, where the majority are from his version of the Thousand Character Classic. I decided to take on the challenge of wet mounting it and was pleasantly surprised when it only took me a few testers to get the hang of it. When doing this final piece, I was quite stressed while gluing it as I didn't want to ruin the fact that I’d managed to get all the characters looking good on a single sheet. The only issue I had was one rogue ink streak, but I decided to run with it as I felt like it fits with the sentiment of the phrase. Next time I’ll strive to do it better!

Asami Perry - artist reflection

Since food is essential for our lives, my idea for this Chinese calligraphy art is something for food. I am originally from Japan and I believe that there are some similarities between Chinese and Japanese cultures therefore I mixed both cultures for my work. Also I really enjoyed the Chinese food when I went to Xi’an last year.

Firstly, I created 8 chopsticks cases with using origami. Number 8 is the luckiest number in China. It contains meanings of prosperity, success and high social status.

Secondly, I chose 4 colours of red, orange, yellow and green. Red represents fire and is the most popular colour in China, meaning for happiness, success and good fortune. Orange is a symbol of good luck, yellow is for royalty and power of the throne, and green is money for wealth. I also chose another 4 designed with animals and floral origami paper which I believe that would be suitable symbols for celebrations or good luck in China and Japan.

Finally, I chose the Chinese characters of 樂,爱,安,梦,谢, 幸,福,喜.

樂 for enjoyment, 爱 for love, 安 for peace, 梦 for dream, 谢 for appreciation, 幸 for happiness, 福 for good fortune and 喜 for happy event and celebration. Placing 福 upside down (到) is common in China. 到 also means “to arrive” therefore it means 福 happiness is 到 arriving.

Food is involved for all occasions and I would like to thank, wish everyone happiness and hope everyone’s study goes smoothly. I put my wishes into this calligraphy art.

Gill de la Motte - artist reflection

Several weeks ago, I started looking for Chinese poetry or couplets that matched our beautiful autumn season in Armidale. I found a poem by Tenth Century Chinese poet Li Yu in which 2 lines really matched my mood: a hint of day-dreaming and yearning; description of a clear, cool autumn in a south land. When I spoke with Xiang (my class mate) about the poem, she gave me some history: Li Yu was an Emperor who was imprisoned when his kingdom was captured. He was considered a better poet than ruler, and composed his best poetry in prison. It’s no comparison really, but being in an office all day when it is glorious autumn sunshine and there are masses of crunchy autumn leaves that need to be walked through, I could understand in a small way the yearning he felt. Also, the southern land spoken of in the poem is Xiang’s home country, so I feel there is a connection there.

Since I am just learning calligraphy, it is often a little stilted. For this major work I wanted to focus on the mood and balance rather than focusing on the technique. So I practiced the characters for a few weeks to try and get them right. But for the major work I wanted to be in a state of flow, so just revised the characters first then wrote them smoothly all at once while seated on the floor. I had already done some painting on the paper, so this helped create the mood.

Toi Ling Ng - artist reflection

When I was young, my mum would read to me. Sometimes, she would recite Chinese poems, many of them written by famous poets from the Tang Dynasty. Though I forgot most of them, there were a few that I still remember. One of those was 登鸛雀樓 (On the stork tower) by 王 之涣 (Wang Zihuan). The meaning behind this poem made such a lasting impression on me, so much that I decided to base my final creative work on it.

白日依山尽, The sun sets and sinks, gradually disappearing into the rolling mountains,

黄河入海流。 The Yellow River galloping and sinking into the vast sea.

欲穷千里目,     If you would fain command a thousand miles in view,

更上一层楼。 To a higher storey you are expected to go.

I was captured by the beauty of this poem - how simply the poet was able to communicate his ideas by combining landscape in the first 2 lines with philosophy in the last 2 lines. This poem serves as an allegory; teaching us about having the right perspectives on life and holding onto what we believe to be upright and virtuous.

The entire creative process took around a month to complete, included within it was 2 weeks of preparation. Preparation included: finding the correct Chinese characters that appeared in the poem in Ou Style (online); finding out the most ideal positioning and placement of the characters on paper, printing each character to the desired size and pasting them on the paper as a model, drawing 米(mi) on each character to help with balance and symmetry. The actual process of writing the poem in Chinese calligraphy was not easy, requiring a great deal of perseverance and patience. Along the way I encountered many difficulties; the ink being too runny, the brush suddenly splitting in the midst of writing, having characters that were not well-proportioned, tears in the paper during the mounting process, just to name a few. From having just an idea to it finally being finished took many rewrites and restarts. As I look at the completed work of art, I am overjoyed at the fact that the hard work and time taken into making this a reality has been worthwhile.

Eloise Ford - artist reflection

This artwork is worked in Chinese calligraphy ink on fine china. I chose these materials as I considered the artwork on the plate to be the ideal background for the text I wished to write, and I knew that calligraphy ink would be usable, without the risk of damaging either the pre-existing artwork or my brush. The plate was bought already painted. The background artwork is entitled, ‘On the Nepean’, and is hand-painted.

The Chinese text is a Bible verse. It is Genesis 1:1, and the English version reads; “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

I decided to use a Bible verse for my final artwork because, as a Christian, the Bible is the most profound influence in my life. This verse is the first in the Bible, and is a profound and foundational statement to the Christian faith. I intended, in using it in conjunction with the background painting, for my artwork to be an expression of the greatness of God; so great is He that He created the heavens, the earth, and everything in them for his pleasure. He made this beautiful world, the trees, the mountains and rivers, and us people. My artwork also serves as a reminder of what we owe to God; since He made everything, He owns everything, including us, and we therefore owe him obedience and worship.

Ewan Small - artist reflection

For my final piece, I have decided to reproduce the proverb 天生我材必有用, relying on the translation of ‘if heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.’

Both through the intensive schools as well as my daily practice of calligraphy this trimester, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the depth and heritage of Chinese culture. As such, in preparing for this project, I wanted to find a proverb which I felt was able to reflect the thoughts that I have had now that we have reached the end of this calligraphy course, as well as allude to some of my hopes for how I will be able to develop the skills learned through this course into the future.

From our learning of the basic strokes on grid paper over the course of the trimester, and now having the opportunity to learn to work on unlined paper and practice the mounting process, this final project has been a fitting end to an enlightening trimester. As I continue to practice my calligraphy moving forward, the skills that I have learned during this course will provide a basis on which to build. Although I do not yet know what I will be able to do with these skills, I am confident that this trimester has provided a solid interest on which to foster a lifelong practice.

In this sense, the indeterminate potential that I feel is inherent in this proverb seems most fitting.