LinLin’s porcelan painting (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
So… you’re not sure where to find a great gallery in Jingdezhen? Look no further than the newer campus of Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute.
It’s early in the trip and Diana has insisted I visit this gallery and I’m intrigued as I want to learn everything about this place! There’s a mystery and a surprise around every corner, that’s for sure. I’m introduced to LinLin and her gallery ‘Find China’ (yep… I originally thought it was an error too and that it should be ‘Fine China’, but alas…. no…. I was completely wrong). LinLin’s work in this gallery is simply exquisite; her painting simply leaves my work for … well…. just leaves it really. LinLin’s an absolute darling and shows us around pointing out her new work and introduces us to some of the staff, seated at a long table and who are focusing completely on their intricate designs and disciplined art work.
Artist at work in Find China Gallery – Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
There’s a lot of work to be done. Only 30o+ pots to go… (ok, I’m guessing, but there’s a hell of a lot to do!). Every now and then they pop their heads up to say hello and to marvel at what the foreigners are looking at, but they’re also quick to return to their work. It’s definitely all about dedication and discipline here.Pottery awaiting decoration – Find China Gallery, Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
LinLin insists on taking us out to some of the studios and the huge student gallery that highlights some of the work in progress and the amazing skills and craftsmanship of students. I’m learning that Jingdezhen not only has its own ceramic institute, but the time it takes for a student to study there is anything from 4 – 6 years. To actually comprehend that such a city exists, that has it’s own university, just for ceramics, is still mind-blowing. So many windows to look in – there’s a lot of construction still happening.
Inspecting new galleries – New JCI campus, Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
We meet one of the sculpture artists (I wish I could remember his name…), have a quick chat about his beautiful work and the hours and hours it’s taken to produce it, the beautiful glazes he’s used and how dedicated he is. I’ve haven’t yet gathered how many students are situated at this campus but things are really quiet and there aren’t a lot of people around. Perhaps it’s all in its infancy, but I reckon I’d be pretty lonely working here, however, the amount of work that’s going on here could indicate anything to the contrary.
Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute – Chen Luo Ming – resident artist (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
We then venture up to the 3rd floor of the main building to look at the studios that some of the students rent out. It’s a never-ending group of corridors with a smorgasbord of studios and work on display or at least in progress. I’m still gob-smacked. Finding studio space like this back home would be ridiculous. It just is. It simply wouldn’t happen. We peer in some of the studios and marvel at the designs in development. Some studios are absolutely spotlessly clean, some set up like a gallery and shop itself and others, well, they’re a little messier but definitely evident of a dedicated artist!
Artists’ studios (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
Outside many of the studios along the window sills there is plenty of work underway, drying, waiting for additional pieces to be added, or waiting for a critique. It’s interesting to see so many talented artists who are way up there with the best. Their work and patience is a lot to be admired and I am in awe of the level of expertise that lies before me.
Artists’ work in progress (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
Even looking out the window there are things that make you go ‘Ooohh….’ and wonder what lies behind those doors…. probably storage 🙂 Otherwise, it could hold something of incredible historical value, remnants of a previous time, someone’s furniture, an old kiln, some plum wine perhaps, or maybe someone’s fine work drying slowly. Anyway, we’re venturing out that way and will wander past on our way to the gallery across the road… now this is a sight to see.
What’s behind those doors? (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
The gallery seems to go on forever. There is work lined up wall to wall, column to column, aisle to aisle… I want to photograph everything. This is one thing that is (I’m told later on…) typical of newcomers to Jingdezhen. You come with a plan and all good intentions but then you see the work on offer and you fall into this state of overwhelm. Finding your niche is hard enough but when you see every artist’s work here, well, it just makes it that much harder. I want to buy it all. I want to make something just like it, but of course, there’s no point. That’s their work, their ideas, their craftsmanship. Copying anything is just a waste of time. I need to do what I love to do and do it well. Either way, I’m still overwhelmed. So many ideas, so little time. Where do I start?
Travel hint no. 21: Take an extra SD card for your DSLR, or set up online storage, like Dropbox or Google Drive for the thousands of photos you’re likely to take with your phone.
Incredible student artistry (© Deanna Roberts 2016)