Eastman Cheng is the current artist in residence at Chinese Arts Centre
12/05/10-21/08/10, Open studio from 19/08/10.
In order to get to know Manchester and its people, Eastman began her residency by taking part in Future Everything 2010 (12-15/05/10) with a two day workshop held at Contact theatre (13-14/05/10).
Participants were encouraged to give Eastman an object that related to either themselves or Manchester and explain its meaning with the help of drawing and writing on large sheets of paper.
In response Eastman made each person a small unique figure which represented the person’s relationship to the object, out of rubbers and other stationary she had brought with her from Hong Kong.
First up was Mr. Michael Anthony Barnes-Wynters aka Barney who said farewell to one of his collection of Golliwogs or Golly dolls as we are encouraged to call them these days.
Being from Hong Kong Eastman was not aware of American born English illustrator Florence Kate Uptons 19th century creation, his beginnings as a chivalrous hero, and later appropriation by Enid Blyton who turned him into an untrustworthy rascal, the use of Golliwog as a racist insult or his appearance on Robertson’s jam jars.
Uptons’ Gollywog is a caricature of an American minstrel doll, itself a caricature of the dancing mistrals who lampooned stereotypical black figures such as the happy-go-lucky plantation worker. Eastman’s response was to add to this long line of caricature but to insure no one would mistake the character of her afro wearing creation, he was emblazoned with a large red heart.
Follow the link below to see ‘CONTROL #1: Seeking Kind in Human’ featuring Barney making reference to Golliwog imagery and its connection to racism and violence towards people of African descent.
Ian brought Eastman the most attractive USB stick I have ever seen.
Designed by Koichiro Kimura ( http://www.koichiro-kimura.com/index.swf) as a promotional tool for the city of Sendai, Japan the USB sticks are laser cut out of wood and covered in gold leaf.
…were one of the four international partners who delivered a networked satellite event as part of GloNet during which this piece of lustrous design was mentioned.
Ian was given the USB stick when members of a company from Sendai visited Vision+Media, where he works in Salford Quays, earlier this year.
In return for passing his gift on to Eastman, Ian received a rubber figure that had all the cool of contemporary design, hand crafted in front of him by Eastman and if I may be so bold also suited his casual minimal style.
Keri a key note speaker at future everything was instantly attracted to the idea of Eastman’s workshop. http://www.futureeverything.org/festival2010/Keynote_Keri_Facer
Her object was a small compass she had been given when she visited Heligan gardens with her husband. http://www.heligan.com/ The compass had served to aid her fond memories of the day and she was understandably reluctant to part with it. Never the less she began to draw and describe Heligan gardens and her visit.
In 1914 Heligan gardens lost all of its gardeners to the Great War and slipped out of public knowledge until 1990 when it was rediscovered and restored. Keri mentioned how she had been moved by the still visible names of the gardeners signed on the wall in 1914 and how she had enjoyed the company of her husband and the peace of the gardens.
When presented with her rubber figure complete with compass arrow and foliage Keri seemed very pleased to have received something sensitive to her memories and an addition to their story. She then happily added her compass to Eastman’s growing collection of objects.
Lowri is a local artist who recently carried out a series of performances on the platform at Salford Central station, in the run up to ‘Sounds from the Other City’.
Lowri had just bought a new purse and Eastman’s workshop provided an opportunity to pass on her old one and its memories.
As Lowri made a written and illustrated record of her old purse she told us that she had just enjoyed the opportunity to sit and have a chat with a friend who lives in Sao Paulo thanks to the Glonet Front Room. She had arranged to meet her friend on the sofa in the front room lovingly created within two venues in Manchester and Sao Paulo where you could sit comfortable and see a person on the other side of the globe appear next to you on the screen in front of you.
Checking her old purse for the last time Lowri removed a picture of the Taj Mahal and explained how she always keeps it in her purse and that it’s often a talking point with Indian taxi drivers.
Eastman gave Lowri’s rubber figure attractive henna patterned Taj Mahal-esque towers that drew attention to the surprising number of ways we are linked to so many far away places through memory, technology and each other.
Emma-Louise came to tell us about her passion for crosswords and introduced Eastman to the Manchester Evening News. Instead of drawing and writing to aid the explanation of her object she completed the puzzles page of the MEN and handed that over to Eastman. In return Emma-Louise received a rubber man with a very fashionable crossword jacket.
I gave Eastman an empty bottle of Metaxa brandy (http://www.metaxa.com/home-800002.html#), an example of how like many people I find myself retaining things of little aesthetic, functional or monetary value that growing sentimentality alone prevents me from throwing away. Brought back from Greece and given to me by my girlfriend’s father this bottle which is too thin to even hold a candle safely has been carried between five different houses over the past seven years.
Eastman gave my rubber figure the characteristics of a sea creature that searches the ocean floor adding objects to its body, like a hermit crab adding poisonous sea anemones to its shell, for extra protection from predators. The pieces of rubber used to give this appearance also resemble pieces of old glass bottles worn smooth by the sea.
Continuing the alcohol theme I promised to help continue Eastman’s introduction to Manchester by taking her to the Marble Arch for a pint of its locally brewed beer.
More pictures from the two days at Contact.