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‘Putting both the ‘Wild’ and the ‘Art’ back into ‘Wildlife Art’
Exhibition and trip to Beijing
Steve's Blog

I have had so many questions and enquiries from friends and clients about my recent exhibition and trip to Beijing that I figured it best to write it up in the form of a small blog. In that way everyone can get to know some of the great things I experienced and I dont die of exhaustion repeating it :

The question I am most asked is "How did the exhibition go?"...and in response to that the quickest and easiest way to answer such a question is to say I think my trip to China will prove to be one of the best career moves I have ever made. In the longer term I believe my connection with Robert and Keturah Mason at Beijing Central Gallery will bring about a much more mature and effective approach to marketing my art from New York to Hong Kong and all points in between. Robert is quite simply the best salesman I have ever met and his integrity and empathy with clients is a joy to behold. I am sure all those fellow artists who read this will understand my refief at now having such a wonderfully professional agent to handle my work in Asia.

Sadly for the artwork which was framed in Shanghai...the man who did it was obviously unaware of the ways in which pastel - drawing must be treated for framing and he managed to damage $75,000 AUD worth of art. The pic above shows me repairing one of the works. Sadly two major works were unfixable so I had to write off $30,000 AUD worth of paintings!!.....siiigh..but live and learn. Though China is amazingly sophisticated in many many ways in the art of pastel - drawings it is still a babe in the woods and there is lots of education to be done.

Sales were affected badly by the quakes in Sichuan province with 10,000 email invites vanishing into the ether!! Still after seeing all of the horrendous damage via various media I can only think how lucky

I was so lucky to have seen Sichuan on my last trip because the Giant panda centre at Wolong was almost at the epicentre of the quake and its 2000 after shocks. The centre itself was severely hit and though no pandas were actually killed they were traumatised for many days afterwards. Heroic in their efforts which rescued all of the pandas and tourists there at the time, tragically 4 of the beautiful Panda Centre staff were reported killed and one badly injured. Most of the Wolong area's housing was trashed by huge boulders. The roads in were destroyed as the steep mountainsides slid down into the valley. Many of the Giant pandas have been relocated to other centres and 8 to Beijing Zoo while the rebuilding happens. So far 68,000 people are confirmed dead and 20,000 still missing. I think most people in China have known someone or lost someone in the terrible destruction. I thank the gods I was born in the middle of a very thick and stable techtonic plate in Australia.

The gorgeous Daisy who is the new assistant and all round gallery person (extraordinaire) at BCG sadly lost her much loved Grandma soon after the quakes. Daisy, as is traditional in China, took time out to visit Sichuan which is the birthplace of her dear Grandma. Daisy's father has also gone to Sichuan to help with the massive rescue and rebuilding efforts. I feel so sad for her family and my wishes are with them. But I know Daisy will deal in a positive way with it like all of China seems to do.

One thing that brings me back to China is the positive, can-do attitude of everyone I meet. No matter where I meet them Chinese people have an incredible resilience and ask time and again "How can we make this happen?"...not (as in Australia) "what makes you think that could work?". A very refreshing change for me since the art scene in Australia has collapsed into colossal indifference since the glory days of the early eighties. Notably Chinese people traditionally place the interests of others ahead of their own and think as a country first, then Community, then you and so on down the scale. Lastly they think of themselves. It grieves me to see the new generation groveling over cheap hip hop culture and aping (in the worst sense) the ego driven rubbish the USA pushes out. They have no concern or care for the rich traditions of ancient Chinese culture. Very soon the rift will be unbridgeable and young Chinese will go down the same pointless consumption-driven path most Western countries have gone down and will find themselves (like us) wondering where they went astray!

Daisy took her day off to Show me around some of the more interesting areas of Beijing. The Silk Market, Lama Temple and Forbidden City were some of the more amazing places. But the Hutongs intrigued me most. Hutongs are traditional and very old courtyard dwellings in the centre of Beijing. Several homes open off the courtyard which is surrounded by a high masonry wall with just a small ornamental gateway as the entry. Happily many of the Hutong occupants have resisted the developers who would turn these areas into more high rise monstrosities. Frequently these places have been 'funked up' to make cool little cafes and fashion design places. Daisy herself lives in one of the Hutong areas and shared with me the sort of strong community experience which still prevails here as opposed to the Western style dwellings elsewhere where fear and greed seem to prevail. I think someone needs to tell the Chinese just what they stand to lose if they remove all of their heritage.

After my week in Beijing I headed South to Singapore for two days. The first was spent at Jurong Bird Park and the second at Singapore Zoo. Jurong is justifiably world renowned and boasts 600 species and 9000 individual birds....most of whom live in huge walk in or free flight aviaries. Im not a fan of zoos per se but Jurong impressed me in a way few zoos can. In the main I saw in the birds the kind of alertness and blooming good health which I normally associate with wild birds.

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Steve Morvell
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Halls Gap Victoria
Australia 3381
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