Thursday, 25 September 2014

UK China Arts Meeting 27th September London

On 27th September 2014, the second China UK Arts meeting will take place in London, hosted by Natasha Phillips and Kunjue Li in collaboration with the Goldsmiths Confucius Institute for Dance and Performance. This will be a 3-hour event in which artists from different disciplines, academics, and art producers and representatives of institutions will come together and look at artistic exchanges between the two countries, understand and communicate industry practices and formal practicalities, and exchange intercultural creative ideas and working methodologies through the sharing of resources.

The reason and motivation behind these series of UK China Arts meetings are threefold:
  1.  There is a lack of concrete foundations that are successful in support and facilitation of cross-cultural creative projects and talents.
  2. It is catered to tackle specific issues that often result in the unfulfilling utilization of resources in both the UK and China.
  3. We want to bring together a community of knowledge and resources that will contribute to the ever-growing amount of opportunities that are being offered and sought after within the industry.
The first meeting was hosted by Bill Aitchinson at Birkbeck University in November 2013. This will be the second meeting of what is planned as an ongoing network and the focus at this meeting will be upon to better understand the experiences and to create opportunities for the different parties involved to meet and strengthen the network. This can be viewed from both directions as British artists working in China and Chinese artists working in the UK. 

The speakers and topics we have presenting at this meeting are:

'A cross-cultural dialogue of cultural, linguistic and artistic understandings between UK and China artists and organisations.'

1) The difficulties and obstacles for bringing work into the international market. [Lindsay Liu, news and radio presenter and documentary producer]

Lindsay Liu is a news and radio presenter and a documentary producer. Lindsay has worked in the media industry for around ten years in both the UK and China and is currently the TV presenter, director and producer of Interactive Media Britain ( She used to be the News Anchor of Phoenix TV station, Radio Presenter of China National Radio station where she interviewed various of celebrities, stars, diplomats and reported on many important events as well as hosted hundreds of important events. Her credits include- Commercial videos: "Non-stop Plan from Beijing to Birmingham" (Producer), Documentaries: "Chinese Designers" (Director), "The only one Chinese Lady in Savile Row" (Director), "The Chinese architect in London Olympic Games" (Director).

2) The Transcultural Curator: The successes and problematics of developing a platform for Chinese contemporary culture. [Rachel Marsden, Curator and cultural producer, Founder of The Temporary, Arts Writer]

Rachel Marsden is a curator, art consultant, PhD researcher, arts and culture writer, and avid blogger in the field of contemporary art, music and visual culture, specifically East Asian and Chinese contemporary visual culture, since 2010 living between UK and Shanghai (China). In January 2014, she founded ‘The Temporary’, a new transcultural exchange platform examining “temporary” and ephemeral experience in art, architecture, design, music, sound, performance and culture between the UK and China. She is also Coordinator (part-time) for the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) (Birmingham (UK) and China) and worked as Research Curator (October 2012-April 2014) for the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (UK).

3) Propose solutions that address misunderstandings and challenge commonsense ideas about Chinese identity and customs. [Dr. Diana Yeh, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Winchester]

Diana Yeh is senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Winchester. A former Fellow of Sociological Review, she also teaches on the MA Culture Diaspora Ethnicity at Birkbeck College, University of London and in Sociology and Psychosocial Studies at the University of East London. Her research interests lie in race/ethnicity, diaspora, migration and culture. Her book The Happy Hsiungs: Performing China and the Struggle for Modernity was published with Hong Kong University Press in 2014. She has presented her research on BBC Radio Four, and at institutions such as the Royal Geographical Society, the Wellcome Trust, National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain.

4) Talk about your own experiences and explorations with your work as an international artist, specifically in China. Communicate the challenges, successes, pitfalls and loopholes and give advice to artists and companies. [David Tse, China Town Arts Space]

David K.S. Tse 謝家聲 is an actor, writer, theatre director and filmmaker, developing the British Chinese / East Asian (BCEA) arts sector to improve intercultural understanding. As consultant Creative Director for CAS (, he engaged artists from China / UK during the Five Circles festival 2008; toured to Beijing / HK with Piccadilly Revisited; secured a Cultural Olympiad Chinese commission for New Music 20x12; and in 2014, will unveil a new sculpture commission for Chinatown and develop artists' / youth arts talent during Autumn Moon. He was Founder-Artistic Director of, where for 13 years, he led the company to become the UK’s only revenue-funded BCEA theatre, touring across UK / China.

Tickets are £11.00 (with a £1.31 booking fee) and can be purchased tickets here:

Note: China is here considered as both the broad Chinese speaking world (so as to include Singapore for instance) and the nation state so as to include all ethnicities and languages within PRC.

This is a series of meetings designed to stimulate ideas and discussion and consolidate UK and Chinese arts networks. Further events will take place in 2015.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

First Meeting

The first UK China Arts Meeting, hosted by Birkbeck College, took place in the Peltz Gallery in Bloomsbury on the 2nd November and it included talks, presentations of music and film, an interview and open discussion.  

Here Dr Martin Welton of Queen Mary University of London and multi-lingual musician Gisele Edwards are taking questions and discussing their work and the wider issues involved in artistic residencies in both the UK and China. 

The following two images are by the artist Helen Couchman who discussed her seven-year working period in Beijing covering both the inspiration behind the work and the practical process of how these projects were made.

Wang Zijun from the WORKERS 工人 series. Beijing, China © Helen Couchman

Untitled (Collecting and Dropping) no. 52. Beijing, China © Helen Couchman

Richard Layzell gave a well-appreciated lecture presentation and video screening on his residency in Shanghai for Square Mile and subsequent development of this work in the UK. The presentation finished with the screening of this video from his residency at Forty Hall (complete)

Sarah Fisher from the newly renamed Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (previously Chinese Arts Centre) Manchester introduced both the work of the artists they host, many of whom are from China and the organisation and its objectives in creating such cross-cultural opportunities for the creation and exhibition of contemporary art.

The day was curated and hosted by Dr Bill Aitchison, artist and associate research fellow at Birkbeck, and run with the assistance of Miyi Zhu. Discussion was lively and engaged covering both the projects presented, the theme of artistic residencies and the challenged and opportunities that come from Chinese artists working in the UK and British artists working in China. The day concluded with a drinks reception and many new connections were made both between the presenters and between those attending

A second meeting is anticipated for 2014 and suggestions for topics are welcomed.

Friday, 4 October 2013

UK China Arts Meeting 2nd November: details and booking information

The first meeting bringing together those interested in understanding and developing UK China arts exchanges will take place at Peltz Gallery in Birkbeck College, University of London. It will start at 10.30AM with registration with the first presentations beginning at 11.00AM A light lunch will be included and it will conclude with a brief drinks reception finishing at 4.30PM.

Tickets are £14 and can be booked here:


Dr Martin Welton will reflect upon ArtsCross and in particular upon a series of three residencies that took place in London, Taipei and Beijing, bringing together dancers, choreographers and scholars. In this presentation he will discuss the implications of setting up a long-term project involving a range of different stake-holders including artists, academics, higher-education institutions, arts institutions and private and national funding organizations.  Dr Martin Welton is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Queen Mary University of London.

Gisele Edwards will talk about attending the finals of the China International Spring Festival Competition - an annual Eurovison-style contest ('Sinovision-') to present one of her original Asian Fusion songs. What followed was an extrordinary three week stay in Kunming, Yunnan that is captured in a documentary film, excerpts of which will be screened. She will go on to talk of subsequent musical projects involving Asian Fusion. Gisele is a professional aerial theatre artist, winner of The Jerwood Prize for Circus, a singer and songwriter. In 2006 she was awarded a contract from Carlin Music Publishing for an album of original Asian fusion songs. Her 8-piece band premiered in 2008 at the Chinese New Year celebrations at Trafalgar Square. In 2007 Gisele worked as Chinese music advisor to Akram Khan and Nitin Sawhney on their collaboration with the China State Ballet,

Richard Layzell will give an illustrated talk on how China has impacted on his practice. Richard Layzell is a London-based artist who works in installation, video and performance internationally. He pioneered a series of innovative artist residencies in industry, defining the role of the 'visionaire', and was based in one square mile of South Shanghai for the Square Mile project. 
His interactive installation Tap Ruffle and Shave, commissioned by Glasgow Museums was seen by 100,000 people across the UK.
His collaboration with Tania Koswycz has led to The Manifestation, a major work for galleries. He is the author of Enhanced Performance and Cream Pages and an artist/researcher with ResCen at Middlesex University. He is currently the lead artist for the innovative King’s Lynn ‘Aspire’ project.
He has been commissioned by Tate Britain, Ikon Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery and Firstsite. He is currently collaborating with choreographer Janice Parker on Glory, a major commission for the opening of the Commonwealth Games Arts Festival in Glasgow in 2014.

Sarah Fisher will talk about some of the residency programmes that Chinese Arts Centre Manchester has undertaken bringing Chinese artists to the UK and also partnering with Chinese residency centres where British artists have done residencies. Sarah Fisher is currently Director (Maternity Cover) of the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester and the Chair of FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool and Chair of Axisweb. She was formerly Head of Visual Arts for Arts Council England in the North West. 

Helen Couchman will be interviewed by Bill Aitchison about her 7-year stay in Beijing. Helen Couchman is a visual artist who has exhibited widely, both in the United Kingdom and internationally, often producing new bodies of work during residencies. Among these are periods at Cyprus College of Art (2003) and Vermont Studio Center, USA (2005). In 2006 Couchman accepted an invitation to work in China, a trip which culminated in a solo show, Gift, at the Dashanzi International Art Festival (DIAF) in Beijing (2006). Couchman’s solo exhibitions include Mrs West’s Hats, First Floor Gallery, Yerevan, Armenia (2004) Gift, Third Floor Contemporary, Beijing (2006) and There was no single reason for me to be there at first, a site specific piece for The Photographer’s Gallery, London (1999). Aside from solo shows the artist has contributed to a number of group exhibitions, including The Artful Scriptorium,Climate Gallery, New York, (2010), There and Everywhere, Transition Gallery, London (2009), China in Motion, Phase 2, London (2008), Solutions for a Modern City, Hong Kong (2008), Future Landscapes, Shewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2005), Uncommon Ground, Artsway, Hampshire (UK) (2004), Sodium Blindness, APT, London (2000), find(found), 4 New Burlington Street, London (1997), and Contemporary Chinoiserie, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London (2008).

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Call for Presenters

On 2nd November a China / UK Arts meeting will take place in London, hosted by Birkbeck College, London. This will be a day-long event in which artists from different disciplines, academics, arts producers and representatives of institutions will come together and look at artistic exchange between the two countries and their diasporas. This will be the first meeting of what is planned as an ongoing network and the focus will be upon artistic residencies. This can be viewed from both directions as British artists working in China and Chinese artists working in the UK. 

There is still some limited space for presenters to talk about and or present the results of residencies (20 minutes max). Presentations in Mandarin or Cantonese are possible as translation will be available. Topics to be addressed can include but are not restricted to: 

How are residencies set up?   
What are the challenges and opportunities that are encountered when working in the other culture's context?
What sort of work is made and how is it received?
What effect does the residency have upon the long-term artistic practice?
How can artistic exchange be encouraged and practically enabled?

Please send proposals (500 words max) to Bill Aitchison email by September 06th. 

Unfortunately we are unable to offer a fee but all presenters will gain free entrance to the full day which will be ticketed for all others.

Note: China is here considered as both the broad Chinese speaking world (so as to include Singapore for instance) and the nation state so as to include all ethnicities and languages within PRC.

This will be the first of a series of meetings designed to stimulate ideas and discussion and consolidate UK and Chinese arts networks. Further events will take place in 2014.