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The Music of Ink at the British Museum


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Table of Contents

Artists' Pages The Contributors Introduction A" Helen Wang 1 Creative links A" Yang Lian 2 The Bridge of Imagination A" Romesh Gunesekera 3 Contemporary Western Calligraphy: An Artist's Viewpoint A" Denis Brown 4 Traces of the Heart: The Essence of Poetry, Calligraphy, Painting and Music A" Qu Lei Lei 5 Yang Lian and Romesh Gunesekera in Conversation 6 Words from Two Visual Artists: A Summary of the Conversation between Denis Brown and Qu Lei Lei 7 The Music of Ink: Rohan de Saram and Zeng Laide 8 What The Music of Ink Means to Me A" Zeng Laide 9 The Ink of Music: An Interview with Rohan de Saram 10 The Music of Ink: Dynamic Thinking in the Chinese Arts A" Yang Lian 11 Tradition and Anti-Tradition in Contemporary Chinese Calligraphy A" Wang Tao Index

About the Author

Volume EditorL Helen Wang is Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum. Her previous books include Chairman Mao Badges: Symbols and Slogans of the Cultural Revolution (2008), Money on the Silk Road: the Evidence from Eastern Central Asia to cAD 800 (2004) and Sir Aurel Stein in The Times (Saffron, 2002). Contributors: Denis Brown followed a rigorous formal training in traditional calligraphy at the Roehampton Institute, London, studying with Ann Camp. He has since won awards and commissions on four continents, and is internationally recognised as a world leader in the field of letter arts, not only for his traditional calligraphy, but also for his highly original and experimental work in glass and digital art. He was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (UK) (1988), and Fellow of CLAS, the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (1994). He has also been the recipient of the Golden Web Award (2001-03), Crafts Council of Ireland awards (1989, 1992, 2003), RDS National Crafts Competition prizes (1989-1993, 1997-2000, 2003), the California Gold Medal (1989, 1992), the Boyne Valley National Art Competition (1990), the Philip T Brooks Memorial Prize (1991), the Muriel Gahan Scholarship (1992), the Glass Society of Ireland Award (1998, 2000) and first prize in Letter Arts Review (USA) annual review of 2003. He was nominated for the Japan Design Foundation, 6th Osaka Design Award (1992), awarded Honorary Membership of the Hong Kong Letter Arts Club (1998) and Honorary Membership of the Alpha Beta Club (ABC) in Hong Kong (2001). Rohan de Saram studied the cello with Gaspar Cassado, Pablo Casals and John Barbirolli. He has played throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and the former Soviet Union and has worked with many composers, including Kodaly, Shostakovich, Poulenc, Walton, Xenakis and Berio. He is also well known through his work in contemporary music (as a member of the Arditti String Quartet), Eastern music, improvised music, and in solo and chamber music recitals with piano as well as other instruments. His recordings include: Benjamin Britten: Cello Suites no.1 - 3 (CD: Montaigne MO-782081); Stefano Scodanibbio: My New Address (CD: Stradivarius STR-33668); Karlheinz Stockhausen: Helikopter-Streichquartett (CD: Montaigne MO-782097); Allan Berg: Streichquartett op.3, Lyrische Suite (CD: Montaigne MO-782119); AMM: The Inexhaustible Document (CD: Matchless MR-CD13). Romesh Gunesekera is the author of four novels: Reef (1994, Yorkshire Post First Work Prize, 1995; Premio Mondello Five Continents Asia Prize, 1997; shortlisted for the Booker Prize and The Guardian Fiction Prize, 1994), The Sandglass (1998), Heaven's Edge (2002) and The Match (2006). His first book, Monkfish Moon (1992, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), was a collection of short stories. He has also received other literary awards, such as the BBC Asia Award for Achievement in Writing and Literature (1998) and several poetry prizes. Qu Lei Lei was a founding member of the Stars Art Movement (1979), the influential group of Chinese artists who fought for greater freedom of expression within the arts after the Cultural Revolution. He came to London in 1985 and has since focused on painting, calligraphy and taichi, all of which he practises and teaches. In 2000 he was awarded the Millenium Adult Tutor Award (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education). He is also Honorary President of the Chinese Brush Painters Society (UK). In 2005 his exhibition Everyone's Life is an Epic was the first solo exhibition by any Chinese artist at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. His publications include A Visual Diary (1996), Here and Now: to Face a New Century, Exhibition catalogue (1999), Qu Leilei Art Exhibition (2001), The Simple Art of Chinese Calligraphy (2002), The Simple Art of Chinese Brush Painting (2004), The Simple Art of Tai Chi: Step-by-step Fitness and Harmony for Body and Mind (2004) and Chinese Calligraphy: Standard Script for Beginners (2004). Helen Wang is Curator of East Asian Money in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum. Her publications include Money on the Silk Road: the evidence from Eastern Central Asia to cAD 800 (2004), a number of books on the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein and his collections - including Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK (1999), and Sir Aurel Stein in The Times (2002), Metallurgical Analysis of Chinese Coins at the British Museum (2005), articles on East Asian money, and translations of contemporary Chinese literature. Wang Tao was educated at Yunnan Normal University (Kunming) and the Chinese Academy of Arts Graduate School (Beijing). He came to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1986, where he completed his PhD - looking at epigraphy and colour symbolism in ancient China. He has been teaching Chinese art and archaeology at SOAS since 1993. He now holds the joint Senior Lectureship shared between SOAS and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He has also worked with contemporary Chinese artists in setting up exhibitions and organising seminars. Yang Lian is one of the young 'underground' poets in China, who published the literary magazine Jintian (Today) in the 1980s. He became a poet in exile after the Tian'anmen Massacre in 1989, and has continued to write and speak out as a highly individual voice in world literature, politics and culture. He has published seven selections of poems, two selections of prose and many essays in Chinese. These include In Symmetry with Death (1989), Masks and Crocodiles (1990), The Dead in Exile (1990), Non-Person Singular (1994), Where the Sea Stands Still (1995), Where the Sea Stands Still - New Poems (1999, a Poetry Books Society Recommended Translation), Yi (2001), Notes of a Blissful Ghost (2002) and Concentric Circles (2005). He was awarded the Flaiano International Poetry Prize (Italy, 1999). Zeng Laide joined the army in 1973, and was based in northwest China, where he engaged in combat, communications, cultural work and the creative arts. He started to learn calligraphy with the Hu Gongshi, became a Member of the China Calligraphers Association in 1982, and in 1984 came second in China's 'First National Wenhui Calligraphy Competition.' In 1986 he was the subject of the film, The Army's Inkman, which was translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Japanese. His first solo exhibitions were in Chengdu (1988) and Beijing (1989). Two touring exhibitions took his work all over China in the 1990s and his exhibition Return to my alma mater was presented at 100 universities in China in 2003-04. In 1999 he established the Laide Arts Centre in Beijing, which serves as his studio and as a centre for artists visiting from around the world. In 2004 he was appointed Professor at Beijing University and also transferred to the Chinese Academy of Painting as a professional calligrapher.

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