Talk: Ming Furniture with Grace Wu Bruce

Ming furniture, the classic furniture of China of the 16th and 17th centuries,
was a “discovery” of the 20th century. Lost during the Qing period (1644 – 1911), Ming furniture was rediscovered with China’s opening up in the 1980’s.
The furniture is mostly made from a tropical hardwood called huanghuali which
is a beautiful orange brown colour, and are rich in types. Striking in modernity and characterized by purity of line and simple designs,Ming furniture has captured the imagination of furniture designers, architects and is sought after by collectors and museums worldwide.

Grace Wu Bruce is a leading international dealer in Ming furniture and holds
exhibitions worldwide, including London, New York, Maastricht and Basel, Switzerland. Specializing in the finest examples of Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th centuries, her gallery was established in Hong Kong in 1987 and the clientele includes many international collectors and museums. The gallery recreates the ambience of Suzhou garden houses and offers a peaceful setting where visitors can browse and enjoy these timeless classics. .

Grace Wu Bruce is recognized as an authority on Ming furniture and has catalogued exhibitions for various museums including Musée National des Arts
Asiatiques – Guimet, Paris (2003), the Palace Museum, Beijing (2006) and Art Museum, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1991 and 2007). Publications include Chinese Classical Furniture, Oxford University Press, 1995 and Eternal Ming Furniture, Forbidden City Press, 2006.

Heritage Walk: Sham Shui Po with Alex Hui

Art and architecture of the 21st century often look into asking questions about the way people live, think and feel. Less emphasis is placed on things that bear reference to the theories or views of historical development of culture.

Sham Shui Po in Cantonese, means Deep Water Pier. Located in the heart of Kowloon, it is one of the oldest settlement districts in Hong Kong among the lowest median household income and with the highest percentage of elderly over 65 years. The residents of Sham Shui Po are quite transient in nature, yet the community, or “kaifong”, shows deep cultural roots and high neighbourhood spirit. This is quite similar to Chinatown or Harlem where people rarely stay for more than one generation, but the community characteristics remain unique and rich.

There are many interesting features in the area such as the street markets, stalls for fashion, accessories, second hand goods, chemical items and antique Chinese furniture outfits. Apliu Street is known to be the counterpart of Japan’s famous high tech Akihabara district with its computers and electronic products. Sham Shui Po is a jolly flea market lover’s haven with local “cha-chantang” or cafés freckled here and there. The street layout is interesting; with tenement housing and shop houses or “tong lau” of all vintages and there is even a special gem of a pawn shop.

During this walk, Alex will share his interesting insights with us on how the diverse colours of Sham Shui Po came into being, and he will probably kindle our thoughts on the controversial balance of handling urban decay and heritage conservation.

An architect with a keen interest in urban conservation, Alex Hui was a curator of The University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery and Executive Director of the Hong Kong Art Centre.

Culinary Evening: Dai Pai Dong

Chinese New Year is mostly about food and festivities. To start the new lunar year,we have prepared a special fusion menu in a Dai Pai Dong.

Dai Pai Dong is quite a part of Hong Kong’s culture and the name usually rings the bell as “good food, poor environment”. They appeared in Hong Kong as early as the late 19th century as unlicensed open-air Chinese-style food stalls serving very cheap food like noodles and congee for the neigbourhood. At the end of World War II in 1945, the colonial government started issuing ad hoc licenses to families of injured and deceased civil servants to help them earn a living.

As the stalls became popular, folded tables and chairs spread along the roadsides,eventually causing traffic congestion. Later the government limited transfers of licenses from the owners and also moved the Dai Pai Dongs to government market buildings above the wet markets. Now air-conditioned, many still produce food that are crispy, tasty and full of “wok hei”, which means good taste and smell by frying in a big wok. The Dai Pai Dongs these days are generally divided into day and night in their operation hours. Day ones serve very simple food, the night ones more sophisticated and seafood oriented.

We have reserved a special section above the North Point market. The owner Robby, a canto film movie star with an afro-mars hairdo, is a funny comic character. Walls are decorated with posters of Chinese movies with upbeat music in the air.

Beer is served in chilled bowls. Delicious menu includes Wind Sand Chicken; Deep Fried Pork Knuckle — meaning money at hand; Basil and Black Bean Razor Clams; Golden Prawns — to have plenty of gold and laughter; Black Pepper Fish Fillet with Melba Toast;Taro Crab; Crispy Sweet and Sour Pork — in owner Robby’s words, “No crispy, no money;” Seasonal Vegetables in Fish Soup; Mixed Vegetables sauté with Basil; Spaghetti with Black Ink Squid Balls; Garlic and Ginger Fried Rice — believed to be especially good for pregnant women; Cheese Cakes, served in cubes in different flavors such as lemon, mango, coffee, red beans and blueberry.

Casual wear is the dress code and non-slip shoes recommended. Do bring friends or families along to enjoy this fun culinary adventure!

Half-day Seminar: Ancient Silk Road in Ningxia with Dr. Susan Whitfield & Professor Puay-peng Ho

As a finale to our 20th Anniversary celebration, The Hong Kong University Museum Society is proud to sponsor the exhibition, The Silk Road in Ningxia, from 13 December 2008 to 15 March 2009, (please see page13) and present this half-day seminar to our members and the community.

Lecture 1: Ningxia and its Place on the Silk Road with Dr. Susan Whitfield

This lecture will give an overview of the role of Ningxia from the opening of the Silk Road in the second century BC through the defeat of the Tanguts and the rise of the Mongol dynasty in the thirteenth century. It will consider how the geography and position of this region has led to be open to a mix of cultures: the steppes to its north, Tibet to its south, the desert oases to the west and China to the east, and will consider the arts and beliefs engendered by these dynamics.

Lecture 2: Western Xia Buddhism and its Art with Professor Puay-peng Ho

Buddhism was promoted as a state religion by Yuan Hao who inherited the throne in 1036. He sponsored many building and translation projects as well as the printing of Xixia Tripitaka. The promotion of Buddhism continued throughout the two millennia of Western Xia (Xixia). This lecture will outline the development of Buddhism during the Western Xia period and their architectural and artistic expressions. It will demonstrate the sinicization process adopted by the State of Western Xia through their support to Buddhism.

Intermission 8 Jan.-Feb. 2009

Lecture 3: Sogdian Traders in Ningxia: life and death with Dr. Susan Whitfield

Many of the tombs excavated at Guyuan were of Sogdians, the great traders of the Silk Road, who set up communities in the market towns stretching from their homes in Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent, through to Chang’an. This lecture will look at their art and beliefs and how they both influenced and were influenced by their encounters along the Silk Road and with China.

Lecture 4 Xumishan Buddhist Grottoes with Professor Puay-peng Ho

One hundred and thirty two caves at Xumishan, Ningxia province, spanning from Northern Wei to the Tang dynasty, can be considered as one of the most substantial grotto sites in China. Located along a silk route from Chang’an just outside the important trading town of Guyuan, the site retains many important examples of Buddhist sculptures of Sui and early Tang. This lecture will explore the characteristics of Xumishan Grottoes in relation to the sites in Maijishan and Binglingsi grottoes.

About the Speakers

Dr. Susan Whitfield is an historian of China and the Silk Road. She works in the British Library where she is the Director of the International Dunhuang Project, whose purpose is to make the manuscripts, paintings and artefacts from the Eastern Silk Road freely available to all via the Internet. She has lived and travelled extensively in China and along the Silk Road and has written many books on history and art, among them Life Along the Silk Road. She curated the exhibition, The Silk Road: Trade, War and Faith held at the British Library in 2004 and is currently working on another major Silk Road exhibition to be held in Brussels in 2009.

Professor Puay-peng Ho, currently Dean of Students, is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his First Class Honours degree in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in Art History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His thesis was focused on Buddhist art and architecture of the Tang dynasty. Professor Ho is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Society of Architectural Historians. His research interests and publications are in the areas of Chinese art and architectural history, vernacular architecture, and architectural theory.

Tour: The Art of Ding Yanyong with Professor Mayching Kao in Cantonese

It is a rare privilege for members to have Professor Mayching Kao as our guide
at the exhibition No Frontiers: the Art of Ding Yanyong, which is being held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from 19 December 2008 to 5 April 2009. This tour with Professor Kao is organized as a continuance of her lecture the day before on 10 January 2009. View,experience and enjoy the selection of Ding Yanyong’s ink and oil paintings from the collection of the Ding family as well as from various private collectors and institutions.

Ding Yanyong was born in the Guangdong province of China in 1902. Between
1919 and 1925, he studied modern art at the Tokyo College of Fine Arts and was particularly attracted to the works of Matisse and the Fauves. Although at first he studied oil painting, Ding subsequently turned to traditional Chinese painting. Ding’s unique style is perhaps best expressed in his paintings of animals, legends and opera singers. He brought his subjects to life with precise execution and his unparalleled mastery of the ink and brush.

Ding settled in Hong Kong in 1949. In 1956, he helped found a special art course at the New Asia College, the precursor of the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he taught until his passing in 1978.

Among the works on loan being shown at Master Ding’s retrospective at the Hong
Kong Museum of Art will be the following two paintings that the HKU Museum Society donated to UMAG in 1997.

Lecture: The Art of Ding Yanyong in Time and Place with Professor Mayching Kao in Cantonese

Edged between the cultures of East and West and the passage from the past to the present, the artist Ding Yanyong (1902-1978) and his life experiences shed light on the triumphs and tribulations of a nation in a tumultuous era.

Ding studied Western painting in Japan and returned to China to join the art scene in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing. He became a motivating force in the New Art Movement that spearheaded the changes to revolutionize Chinese art, in the company of such masters as Xu Beihong, Liu Haisu and Lin Fengmian. As an art educator, he achieved the pinnacle of his career as President of the Guangdong Provincial Art Academy in Guangzhou between 1946 and 1949.

The political turnover in 1949 forced Ding to flee to Hong Kong, leaving behind an illustrious career in mainland China to come to an island where he was a complete stranger. All alone without his family and suffering extreme financial hardship, Ding persevered in the apathetic artistic environment of Hong Kong during that period. His revolutionary efforts to blend Western Fauvism with Chinese traditional literati painting and archaic seal-carving,formed his signature style. His comical and yet mystical art will be unfolded in the drama of his personal life, which has been intimately interwoven in the complex artistic milieu of Hong Kong.

Professor Mayching Kao is the former Chair Professor of Fine Arts and the Director of the Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She specializes in Chinese painting with an emphasis on the Ming, Qing and modern periods, as well as cross-cultural influences and art education. Her publications include European Influences in Chinese Art, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries, Lin Fengmian: A Butterfly Broken Free from Its Cocoon,The Art of Wu Guanzhong, The Mei Yun Tang Collection of Paintings by Chang Da-chien, Celebration of Nature: The Life and Art of Chao Shao-an, Gao Jianfu and the Ceramics Industry in Modern China, Ding Yanyong: His Life and Art and Fang Zhaoling: Her Times, Life and Art.

Home Visit with Barbara Park

Barbara Park’s house on Lugard Road is a colonial bungalow built in 1924 by the renowned architects of the time, Palmer and Turner, for their partner Lennox Godfrey Bird.

It suffered badly during the war, but was rehabilitated by the then owner of Kelly and Walsh bookstore, a bachelor with a great gift for gardening, and some of his gorgeous trees are still doing well.

Barbara describes her house as “half Museum, half junk shop” as she’s collected Asian artefacts for forty years, many of them costing very little, but which are crafts disappearing during our lifetime, and they’re bound to make you laugh, including 178 Asian hats which she hopes to donate to a museum in the near future.

She runs a business named Plant a Park, which designs and manufactures man made plants for the hotel and shopping mall industry and has retail premises in Peel Street,Central. She’s lived in Hong Kong since 1966.

Barbara serves on the Committee of the Oriental Ceramic Society and, if the Xmas tree doesn’t take up too much room, you’ll see her collection of Imperial Yellow Porcelain.

The fires will be lit for your arrival.

Evening at the Museum: Members Reception & Opening of the Exhibition

To celebrate art and friendship, members are invited to join us for an Evening at the Museum to coincide with the opening of the exhibition The Fame of Flame: Imperial Wares of the Late Ming Period. This reception promises to be a fun event for members to meet other members over wine, hors dӯeuvres and music amidst the lovely art collections exhibited in the picturesque University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG). This event is also one way of saying “thank you” to our members for past support.

About the Exhibition
The Fame of Flame: Imperial Wares of the late Ming Period will feature over 120 pieces of imperial wares dating from the Jianjing to the Wanli periods, chosen from the collections of the University Museum and Art Gallery and local private collectors.

About UMAG
The Museum is elegantly situated in the Fung Ping Shan Building and the lower three floors of the TT Tsui Building. The Fung Ping Shan Building, originally donated to the University by Mr. Fung Ping-shan in 1932 for a Chinese book library, was converted into the Fung Ping Shan Museum of Chinese Art and Archaeology in 1953.

With further extension into the TT Tsui Building in 1996, the Museum changed its title to the University Museum and Art Gallery and remains one of the oldest and most distinguished museums in Hong Kong, housing over one thousand items of Chinese antiquities in ceramics, bronzes, paintings, Chinese oil paintings, as well as carvings in jade, wood and stone.

Parkview Art Collection

In Chinese, the literal meaning of collecting (shou cang) is “to acquire and to hide”, but the collectors of these museum quality artworks has given shou cang a new meaning. It is “to acquire, to exhibit and to share”. This unique art collection has been acquired by three generations of passionate art lovers of the Wong family. Selected with discerning eyes, it is permanently exhibited in the Parkview Clubhouse on the hilltop of the Tai Tam Country Park and is open to all visitors of this facility.

The Parkview Art Collection showcases a wide range of disciplines in world art. Without favoring any particular genre, it is comprised of the following:

– Modern and contemporary Western art – includes works from famous artists
– Picasso, Andy Warhol, Miro, Chagall, Monet, Van Gogh and others. This collection has a focus on the sculptures of Salvador Dali.

– Asian contemporary art’ includes works by artists who stood at the forefront of contemporary art in China – Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi,Zeng Fangzhi and others. There are also many artworks of emerging artists
from China as well as newly acquired works from Korea and Indonesia.

– Chinese classical paintings and calligraphy – formed part of the earlier collection,including a large number of famous literati paintings and calligraphy (Wang Yuanqi, Wang Hui and Bada) as well as imperial hand scrolls.

– Buddhist sculptures – a unique collection with some very rare pieces dating from Northern Wei to Qing dynasty. This collection has been exhibited at the City University of Hong Kong and has also been well documented by established international scholars.

– Chinese antiquities and curios – include early bronzes from the period of the Warring States, a mix of distinguished pieces of cloisonn-, jade ruyi, ceramics,seals and other artifacts from around the world.

In-house Curator Lucie Chang Yu (MA from SOAS, University of London) or her colleague will guide us through the collection. We will enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Clubhouse after the viewing.