Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gold and Porcelain

This morning I attended the opening of a photography exhibition, Glory & Dream [sic], at the National Museum. It was of Chinese Olympic Gold Medallists, a stark B&W portrait of each and every one. There were a lot of course, but it surprised me to learn that all the athletes are still alive... until I remembered that China is a relative newcomer to the Games - their first was in 1980. 
Anyway, they were all taken by one guy, the very amiable Pang Xiaowei. He started searching them out six years ago and has now ticked them all off. Of course, the question is: will he continue the project? His response when I asked him was a cross between a laugh and a sigh. Given that China will probably win a treasure trove of Golds in London he might wish he'd never started it. It was funny: I was the only foreigner present, invited because of the London Olympics.
While in the Museum, I saw the British Museum / V&A's Passion for Porcelain exhibition which tells the story of Europe's fascination with, and import and later copying of, Chinese ceramics over the past several hundred years. Really interesting story, nicely laid out, a healthy number of visitors, and with a seriously big & impressive catalogue to boot. Here's a porcelain swan-shaped soup tureen made in England in around 1755. The top lifts off by grabbing, carefully, the bird's neck. 

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