January 20, 2017, by Ian Kingsbury
A little corner of China in GGL
From 16-24 January, in a quiet corner of George Green Library on A floor, Chinese brush artist Jiang (Jack) Hongsheng is offering students and staff the opportunity to take a break from work and exams. With Jack’s demonstration and encouragement, you can learn how to paint some of China’s most iconic flora, from plum blossom to bamboo, and take the result home with you!
Simply drop in for a free session on Friday 20 January until 4pm, or Tuesday 24 January, from 10am to 1pm then again from 2pm to 4pm.
A universal language
Based in Ningbo, Jack is an artist and teacher of the traditional Chinese arts of brush painting and calligraphy. His free drop-in sessions within George Green Library (see the poster below) have been made possible through a partnership between the Library and Lakeside Arts.
“It’s been very popular” says Jack. “We’ve had some great success. In just two hours students have been able to take away a beautiful peony or chrysanthemum”.
Jack explains that his latest series of four brush paintings capture the qualities of the “ideal gentleman”. Using metaphor, Jack describes the orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum, and peony – the Chinese national flower – as possessing the qualities we should all aspire to. For instance, the chrysanthemum blossoms late, almost into winter, giving of its beauty and meeting hardship with gusto, despite knowing hard times are ahead.
In 2012, he was presented with a National Golden Prize for Painting. Also in the same year, he set up the The Red Peony Academy in the East China port city of Ningbo.
“I used to teach English in China, but now ink is the language I use to connect with people”.
A relaxing ‘time out’
Jack’s passion and love for what he does is infectious. The students painting when I visited were certainly enjoying themselves:
“I did some brush painting about a year ago so it’s great to pick it up again”. Another added: “It’s very relaxing. We’re all in the middle of exams so it’s been great to come here and focus on something so calming”.
A number of Library staff also took the opportunity to try their hand at painting. Wendy said:
“We had a lovely afternoon with Jack. He told us a little about himself and the flowers we were going to paint before giving us a demonstration of how to do it. The technique was very precise and controlled but it meant that at the end we were all able to produce something lovely to take home. The atmosphere was very calming and relaxing and it was good to meet our colleagues and students and to focus on something different amidst the hurly-burly of our busy working days. I returned to work feeling refreshed”.
Her colleague Barbara added:
“The workshop was fabulous, I really enjoyed it. I’m not at all artistically talented, but was amazed by what I managed to produce, with guidance from Jack – he was very encouraging. Everyone achieved lovely results”.