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Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is delighted to welcome Wang Xieda, the first artist to take part in The Steep Trail exchange between Scotland and China.
Wang Xieda's recent works have always taken the sedate and ancient style and the refreshingly elegantrhyme as the sign, fundamentally ttacing back to the chinese nation's aesthetic. In the main relying on simple and unpretentious lines his sculpture and painitng construct precise and unpredictable moulding. Among those visual forms, like primitive totems and early caligraphic symbols Wang explores the abstract and pure aesthetic feeling, perfectly grasping the pulse of dimensions and appropriately creating the rhthym of space.
An extract from an essay by Li Xu the Director of the Z-Art Centre
The Steep Trail project was set up with the aim to invesitage the legacy of John Muir (1838-1914) and his relevance to contemporary Scottish and Chinese culture.
The project consists of a number of differnet events. A Scotland-China artist exchange, art/eco labs, exhibitions in Scotland and China, a conference and a publication.
Polarcap has established a basecamp (project headquarters) in Muir’s birthplace of Dunbar – literally and metaphorically tramping out the miles with ground research, workshops and discussion. Working alongside our principal collaborators, establishing art/eco labs across the East Coast of Scotland and finally embarking on a journey following Muir’s footsteps from the East Coast of Scotland to Shanghai, China
In this world of global expansion, draining resources and potential ecological doom Steep Trail will ask is there still relevance in Muir’s legacy and can this founding father of conservation help us when we need him most. This project considers local, national and global perspectives.
John Muir, Lowland Scot - wilderness guru, pioneering environmentalist, father of America’s National Parks system, explorer, author, geologist, botanist and mountain man - his legacy and relevance to 21st century thinking in contemporary Scottish culture within the context of a global society. When Donald Worster’s book won Scotland’s biggest literary prize in 2010 panel chair Dr Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature, Scottish Arts Council added: “A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir…. should be in every Scottish home and classroom, next to the poetry of Robert Burns. “
This project takes it’s name from Muir’s book Steep Trails, a volume of his collected letters and articles first published in 1918 and hinges on Muir’s empirical approach to research, his measuring the surface of the earth with the gait of his own feet, meeting nature as nature and not as the semblance of nature. Walking and talking with people was his way of sharing and communicating ideas and effecting change in the world around him.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find ourselves hitched to everything else in the universe," John Muir wrote in ‘My First Summer in the Sierra’, later reaffirming this one-ness: "When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dew-drop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty."
This connectivity represents a search for understanding; an investigation into the strangeness and complexity of the world we live in. It indicates a curiosity to explore the natural world commonly shared amongst scientists and environmentalists with issues of great interest to many 21st century artists. Muir believed we all had a deep-rooted need to be connected with nature. In this modern world of global expansion, draining natural resources and potential ecological doom, Steep Trail will expand on the relevance Muir’s legacy holds, consider how it can be most fully appreciated and understood and how it will be best put to use in the context of the culture of Scotland and China in the 21st century.
Muir visited Shanghai as part of a global expedition in 1903-04, to gather seeds and study Asian forests. He was not a stranger to Chinese culture and had concerns for the plight of Chinese workers [10 percent of the population of California of his day]- he employed estate hands in his orchards and worked tirelessly alongside them. He was not only impressed by their knowledge, intellect and phenomenal drive but also the umbilical connection they felt for their homeland as he felt for his native Scotland.
Today, Modern China’s rapid growth has global implications and the physical reality of contemporary Shanghai is remarkable – a 21st century equivalent to New York’s position in the early 20th heralding the ascendance of a new and dynamic presence in the world. Although obviously very different Scotland and China both display evidence of how global economic upheavals can affect the urban and natural environment.
Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop is located in Newhaven.
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