Monthly Archives: October 2019

Special Lectures on Chinese Art – 28 & 29 Oct

Professor Jing Lyu | Fudan University, Shanghai

Lecture 1: Retrieving the Glory of Lacquerware in Ancient China
28 Oct 2019 16:30-17:30 | Seminar Room A, Fire Station, Edinburgh College of Art
Lecture 2: Between Innovation and Tradition: Xiaojiaochang New Year Prints in Shanghai
29 Oct 2019 11:10-13:00 | Seminar Room C, Fire Station, Edinburgh College of Art

Jing Lyu (吕静) is a Professor in the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology at Fudan University, Shanghai. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in history at Fudan University and completed a doctorate in literature at Tokyo University. Before joining Fudan University in 2005, she served as a researcher at the Institute of History of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of Oriental Culture of Tokyo University, and lecturer at the University of Sacred Heart. The research interest of Professor Lyu includes the ancient history of China, the history and society of East Asia, and cultural relics. She focuses on the study of oracle bones, bronzes, bamboo slips, lacquerware and intangible cultural heritage. Her books include Research of Mengshi (盟誓) in Spring and Autumn Period: A Reconstruction of Society based on Religious Cults (2007) and The Collection of Oracle Bones at Fudan University (2019), and translation of The Society and Country of Ancient China (2018). She also manages more than ten research projects, including the art project of National Social Science Fund, The Investigation and Research on Ancient Chinese Lacquerware collected in Japan, Shanghai Philosophy and Social Science Project, Shanghai Pujiang Talent Project, Project of National Cultural Relics Bureau, and the international project funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Professor Lyu is the awardee of research excellent of Shanghai Philosophy and Social Science (2011).

Lecture 1: Retrieving the Glory of Lacquerware in Ancient China
28 Oct 2019 16:30-17:30 | Seminar Room A, Fire Station, Edinburgh College of Art

China is the only original country of lacquer throughout the world, and lacquerware, which is made of lacquer, is an invention of ancient China in prehistoric times. By using lacquer as glue or enhancer, this kind of artefact was more multifunctional and endurable, especially in an ancient society where resources were limited and tools were rude. The production and use of lacquerware not only show the wisdom of Chinese ancestors, but also make great contributions to world civilisation. The technique of producing lacquerware also has a significant influence in neighbouring countries, such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.

At least 8,000 years ago, the residents living along the Lower Yangtze River had been varnishing artefacts with lacquer. After the end of the Bronze Age and before the mass production of porcelain,
lacquerware reached the first peak in the history of China. During the first peak, from the Warring
States Period to the Han Dynasty, the amount and types of lacquerwares exploded. They appeared in nearly every aspect of life, including catering and ceremonial vessels, entertainment equipment, furniture, architecture, religious utensils, military affairs, etc. Various techniques were applied on
lacquerwares, like varnishing, painting, needle painting, metal embroidering, metal foil decorating and inlay. Both nobles and civilians were able to use lacquerware in their daily life due to its availability in quantity, so that lacquerware helped to enhance living quality in early China.

Later in the Tang Dynasty, the technique of lacquerware was highly advanced. As Tang culture spread out into Korea and Japan, lacquerware also permeated the society, politics, religion and art in these countries, which marked the second peak of Chinese lacquerware. The third peak was located from the Song to the Qing Dynasty when the techniques of lacquerware, such as carving, gold and silver inlay, and mother-of-pearl inlay, advanced to the pinnacle and brought incomparable aesthetic experience. This period symbols the optimal level of Chinese lacquerware. The lecture will first give an overview of the development of lacquerware in China. It will also discuss how the production of lacquerware contributed to the cross-cultural and artistic interactions between countries in East Asia.

Lecture 2: Between Innovation and Tradition: Xiaojiaochang New Year Prints in Shanghai
29 Oct 2019 11:10-13:00 | Seminar Room C, Fire Station, Edinburgh College of Art

Chinese New Year Prints originated from the door gods with the meaning of lustrum on time change (New Year). After the Song Dynasty, with the development of block printing, New Year Prints were in mass production and were increasingly accessible to the masses. The customs were further flourished. New Year Prints from different regions had different genres and styles, mainly four popular styles were recognised. Derived from Taohuawu New Year Prints in Suzhou, Xiaojiaochang New Year Prints in Shanghai is a carrier of Shanghai School’s artistic expression. Not only delivering realistic themes, diversified forms, westernized materials and modernized technology, such type of prints had a strong aftereffect, which laid the foundation for the emergence of novel advertising pictures and popular calendar posters (yuefenpai) of modern Shanghai.

Please note the lectures will be given in Chinese with spontaneous translation.

All Welcome!

Chinese Oracle Bones exhibiton and sportlight talk at the National Museum of Scotland

Discover some of the treasures within the National Museum Scotland’s significant collection of oracle bones, the second largest in the world outside of China. Inscribed with earliest known Chinese writing, the bones were used for divination during the late Shang dynasty (c.1200-1050 BC).

This exhibition will run from 25 Oct 2019 to 29 March 2020. For detailed information please visit National Museum of Scotland website HERE.

Spotlight talk:

‘Dragon bones’ and the earliest known Chinese script by curator Dr Qin Cao

Location: Auditorium, Level 1,  National Museum of Scotland

Date and Time: 28 November 2019, 14:00-15:00

Free Admission. Book your place HERE.



Chinese Film Documentary IV: The Next Life + A Second Child on 11 November

Fan Jian is a documentarian who focuses on Chinese social issues through character-driven storytelling. He has directed six feature-length documentary films, most recently Still Tomorrow, winner of a Special Jury Award at IDFA 2016. His films The Next Life (2011) follows a working-class couple lost their only child in the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. When the earthquake hit, Zhu, the father, tried to rescue his beloved daughter from the rubble but failed, plunging the couple’s happy life into darkness and uncertainty. The sequel, a short entitled A Second Child (2019) records how the same couple struggle to recover from the painful past.

When talking about the film and the time he spent with the couple, Fan Jian said, “The long-term mental health damage to disaster survivors is equally as severe as the physical and economic damage to environment and society. This issue requires our immediate attention.”

These screenings form a part of Earth in Crisis Chinese Eco-documentary UK Tour curated by the Chinese Independent Film Network UK and sponsored by UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The tour showcases a series of Chinese Eco-documentary films foregrounding the growing ecological emergency facing our planet and aims to encourage the discussion of such topics as sustainable development, anthropogenic climate change and human-environment relationships in the UK.

Join us for the opportunity to see The Next Life and A Second Child and also to meet the film director.

Date: Monday 11 November 2019

Location: Screening room (G.04), 50 George Square, EH8 9JU


17:30: Registration
18:00 – 19:30: Film Screening: The next life (2011)
19:30 – 20:00: Drinks Reception
20:00-20:30: Film Screening: A second child (2019)
20:30-21:00: Q&A

Tickets are free and can be secured by booking from HERE.

Metamorphosis of a Butterfly: Xiyadie’s Queer Papercutting Art, 16 Oct @4-6pm

Date and Time: Wednesday, 16 Oct, 4 – 6 pm

Location: 50 George Square, Project Room (1.06), University of Edinburgh

Celebrated as ‘China’s Tom of Finland’, Xiyadie is probably one of the best-known queer artists living in China today. His identity as a gay man from rural China and his method of using the Chinese folk art of papercutting for queer artistic expression make him a unique figure in contemporary Chinese art. This talk examines Xiyadie’s transformation of identity in life and his representation of queer experiences in papercutting art. Using a critical biographical approach, in tandem with analysis of his representative artworks, I examine the transformation of Xiyadie’s identity from a folk artist to a queer artist. In doing so, I delineate the transformation and reification of human subjectivity and creativity under transnational capitalism. Meanwhile, I also seek possible means of desubjectivation and human agency under neoliberal capitalism and consider the role of art in this picture.
Dr Hongwei Bao is Associate Professor in Media Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he also co-directs the Centre for Contemporary East Asian Cultural Studies (CEACS). He holds a PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies from the University of Sydney, Australia. His research primarily focuses on queer media and culture in contemporary China. He is the author of Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China (NIAS Press, 2018). He has also published articles in Cultural Studies, Culture Unbound, Global Media and China, Health, Culture and Society, Interventions, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Made in China Journal, Positions, and The JOMEC Journal.

No booking required. ALL WELCOME!

My World in War and Revolution-16 Oct @6-8pm

Location: The Playfair Library Hall, Old College, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

Date and Time: 16 Oct, 2019. 1800-2000

Each year the University hosts a series of inaugural lectures given by Professors or Chairs newly appointed by the University. The speakers give an illuminating overview of their contribution to their field.

In both the East and the West the diaries is an ancient genre, but it underwent important changes in the modern era. Simultaneously, the social structure, media environment, and political regimes also transformed rapidly.

In this lecture, Professor Aaron Moore focuses on the relationship East Asian modernity shared with the personal diary, which came to both reflect and contribute to phenomena such as ‘total war’ mobilisation, revolution, and the experience of childhood. Moreover, having examined hundreds of diaries from around the world, Moore introduces a methodology for reading personal diaries that emerged out of his comparative approach to modern history. Despite the considerable cultural and ideological differences between China, Japan, America, the USSR, and Britain, the usefulness of the diary as a tool for self-discipline emerged almost simultaneously in each context, and this uncanny convergence must be explained.

Tickets for the event are free but must be booked in advance Here


Interested in sharing Chinese and East Asian stories?

The Traverse Theatre and Grid Iron Theatre Company are looking to connect with East Asian communities and individuals with an interest in traditional Chinese and East Asian storytelling to help develop a brand new theatre show. The new show will be based on Pu Songling’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio and will combine retelling of these tales with your own stories.

Thu 10 Oct, 7-9pm
Fri 11 Oct, 3-5pm

Saigon Saigon Restaurant, 14 S St Andrew St, Edinburgh, EH2 2AZ (near east end of Princes St)

These gatherings are free to attend and will include tea and snacks. You don’t need to bring anything – just come along to share conversation and stories. Mandarin speakers will be at
both gatherings.

To find out more, please get in touch with or visit