Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tea ceremonies

More meetings... which included a trip out to Shanghai's new equivalent of 798 - a place called Wuwei which used to be a complex of textiles factories, now partly taken over by Zendai Himalaya Art Foundation. The gallery is interesting enough but what really impressed was having lunch with the Director Shen Qibin in the adjacent home-cum-gallery-cum-studio he has made for himself. The huge 'living room' has a badminton court for a carpet on which sits the longest table I've ever seen, made from a single fabulous piece of wood and which took 30 men to carry it in. Outside he keeps chickens, geese and a goat. His studio doubles up as a garage. The daily dining room is actually quite modest but the lunch his wife cooks up is exquisite... after which we are treated to tea ceremony in his study and the highest fidelity music I've heard in a long time (the amp a mini-forest of valves). It's fair to say that not only is Mr Shen talented and wealthy but he is the contemporary embodiment of the kind of intellectual who, in the Tang Dynasty, spent his days writing poetry, perfecting the art of calligraphy and simply 'being'. 

Back to the real world and more meetings, but ending with a very relaxed dinner in a simple Hunanese restaurant in the company of Nick Yu, Director of Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre. Here is someone who not only runs Shanghai's best theatre, but also heads up the city's Contemporary International Theatre Festival, writes three plays a year, is finishing up a PhD... and is a really nice, unassuming guy to boot. Oh yes, halfway through our meal, the table next to us caught fire. The waitress casually came over and poured tea over it. 

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