'One could be amazed how these old traditions can still ignite creative ideas using ancient materials, in a digital age in which people communicate far more easily than ever before. We use social media, e-mails, Facetime, etc… but forget to pay attention to the details of our surroundings and cultural heritages — what we call traditions.’ Zhu Chunhang
All artists are part of Open Books: a creative collaboration between Visual artists, started by Mary Husted in Wales in 2011 and developed in 2013 by a collaboration with Sanshang Museum of Contemporary Art, Hangzhou. Open Books has provided opportunities for cultural exchange, exhibitions, talks, seminars, workshops in China, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, India and USA from 2012 - 2019.
In the messy business of making an artwork, materials and their qualities are central to an artist's whole practice. Whichever culture we grow up in we become carriers of long traditions which we explore and challenge. The questions raised about finding common ground between artists coming from long but differing traditions in a global, geographically shrinking world, and the potential for misunderstandings as well as mutual enrichment,
has, I think, extended the dialogue which we hope is an essential part of the Open Books project.
The current 'Paper Exchange' exhibition presents the challenge: what happens if we exchange our normal working materials? At first we thought Welsh artists could be sent rice papers, Chinese artists could be sent watercolour papers. But as we developed the idea in conversation with our Chinese friends, we realised that Western materials were already freely available in China and a more appropriate 'challenge' would be to send old maps, posters and book pages with a distinctly European patination to their artists. All Welsh artists have been working on rice paper.
An exhibition of 'Open Books' takes place at Art Central, Barry from 13th April - 11th May 2019