A bit complicated, but it worked!

The dragon sculpture for the Dragons Garden/ Julong Garden is ready!

I would like to take this sentence as the motto for this project: ‘ a bit complicated but it worked” . I am very happy we managed to finish this community mosaic project within the Julong Garden Neighborhood despite a very complicated structure, within the complicated situation of the COVID 19 outbreak and in a rather challenging setting of cultural differences(eg not everyone spoke the same language) of the participants.

We started in Oktober 2019 (click on the underlined link to open up the previous blog on the dragon) with the design which I then presented to the compound management. After getting their green light we set off to produce the larger parts of the mosaic in November in the mosaic moments studio in Julong Garden.

During the holiday period in December and January the dragon slept. Then came the COVID 19 outbreak in China and we were bound to our houses. The work on the dragon gave me and my husband an occupation to step out of hard work and worries and into colors and geometric shapes. We had two lovely sessions working on the tail of the dragon and listening to Albert Camus “The plague”

The dragon mosaic is made from tiles broken with a hammer and then put together into a new design, the shards are glued with white glue onto fibre netting basically making a new tile. Later a transparent self adhesive film is stuck over the new tile. This keeps the mosaic safe between the Fibre netting and the adhesive until it is installed.

When the weather became warmer in Beijing the dragon production was set up outside, near the structure where it should be installed, under a beautiful Pergola. Many neighbors joined, still cautious but happy to be able to meet again or at the first time. It was a happy and relieved atmosphere with in the beautiful spring in Beijing.

Finally on May 6 the Beijing government allowed building work again . So we set off to prepare the structure. Taking away the old plaster revealed some very crumbely cement underneath. I needed a mason! A neighbor passed by and got interested in what we were doing, he pulled out his phone and called a number. I didn’t understand what he was saying. 5 minutes later a friendly man appeared that somehow made me understand that he is there to help. This way I found Huang and his brother who became experts in mosaic installation working very careful and diligent with this rather fine art material.

On May 23 the main parts of the dragon were installed with the help of builder Huang and many neighbors.

In the weeks between 23 May and 6 June I worked outside making all the remaining pieces for the many corners that the structure has. This was a challenging design task to connect the main parts within all the bends and folds.

Every morning I worked on a self made table from the trash of another building site which I put up directly next to the dragon. It was a wonderful period being outside under the tall trees hearing the birds sing. My outdoor studio attracted the attention of a lot of passer by’s. Some just watched others were very keen to participate. Lisa and her colleague came in their lunch break to make two pieces

The last parts of the dragon were made on a stormy night inside the studio.

My French neighbor Magali helped in stalling the last 12 pieces. It was fun feeling like builders.

Finally the grouting day came. After the glueing cement was dry and the protective film removed the whole dragon could be grouted.

On the morning of June 6 I was anxious if we could finish grouting the dragon as only 3 people announced their participation – and what a surprise: more than 10 people came with dogs and babies to join in this magic grouting party.

Now the dragon watches over our neighborhood with its kind eye even at night. If you have him in your back like the couple in the last picture he wags his good energy towards you with his tail.

Islamic Geometric Patterns

Since we were living in Uzbekistan from 2004-2006 I am fascinated by the lines that create the geometric patterns in the tiles of ancient islamic art on the mosques and schools.

In January this year I visited Samarqand and Buchara again. The trip started with some snow flakes, but then the weather evolved into a beautiful blue spring sky.

About Islamic Patterns: “Islamic decoration makes great use of geometric shapes, which have developed over centuries. These patterns of Islamic art are often said to arise from the Islamic view of the world, which is the central concept of Tawhid, or Divine Unity. To Muslims these forms, taken together, constitute an infinite pattern that extends beyond the visible material world. They concretely symbolize uncentralized nature of the creation of Allah and therefore in their use of patterns, Islamic artists are in part expressing the fathomless of Got – not just that God is everywhere, but that God is unknowable. In this sense, pattern can be used as a meditative tool.” source: Backhouse, Tim”Only God is Perfect”. Islamic and Geometric Art, http://www.geometricdesign.co.uk/

In Turkey I found these patterns again and used some of them for my mosaic designs.

Coming back to Beijing from Uzbekistan in early February, I was devastated, that I could not open my studio, due to the coronary virus outbreak in China. We had to be under home quarantine and congregating in larger groups was and still is not allowed.

So I took a ruler and compass and with the help of only these instruments and the instructions of the book “Islamic Geometric Design” I immersed into the world of lines – forming patterns, making peace with the chaos around me …

Mosaic Tour in HongKong

Last weekend I visited Hongkong. In preparation for my trip I researched “Mosaic artists in Hongkong” – and Karen Pow appeared on my screen. After being disappointed that she wouldn’t be in Hongkong when I was there, I was over the moon when she provided me with the detailed locations of her public mosaics all over town – my plan took shape to go on a mosaic tour through Hongkong. I was even more excited when Karin Moorhouse an Australian travel- and food writer who lives in Hongkong for most of her adult life, agreed to join me and even better suggested, as an insider, to work out the route. So we met on a fine morning of January 13, 2020 at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry terminal to go on this adventure. In the evening of that day over a beer she drew me a line on the map where we went – to my surprise we had circled both main islands Hongkong and Kowloon – seeing great mosaic murals – and touched a lot of Hongkong life and history away from the normal tourist spots. Here is my picture story:

First we went to Mei Foo Sun Chuen station where we found after a bit of asking the Evangel Seminary with Karen Pows latest commissions, beautifying the courtyard of the seminary.

Address: G/F 38-46 Nassau St., Mei Foo Sun Chuen.

The premisses of the seminary are in the lower ground of a multi story building in a a residential neighborhood.

We moved on using the MTR Hongkongs Metro to Tsuen Wan MTR station

The community mosaic at the outside wall of Tuen Wan MTR station was made in 2010 in a collaboration between Karen Pow and Gareth Dunster, with the participation of schools and youth clubs of the area.

The dynamic shapes depicting geometrical patterns from impressions of the city are mounted on the wall along a footbridge along side the station. In downtown Hongkong you can walk a lot on these footbridges over the roaring traffic below the towering high-rise but protected from rain and sun by roofs.

Then we drove to another metro station that was the place of heavy fights between police and demonstrators in the ongoing conflict in Hongkong. During the days of my visit the city was quiet and only the traces of papers stuck over the mosaics in this metro station are some marks of heated disputes.

Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Island

For Lunch Karin took me to this beautiful new garden&Temple development. We could rest our eyes on the green after looking intensively at walls and our energy was fueled with a delicious vegetarian meal at the restaurant in the park carefully chosen by my food connoisseur companion.

The last stop was one of the remaining villages of Hongkong. The dwelling on a steep slope reminded me of the location of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Outside the village is a map with points of interest, a pagoda, a silo, a diary workers club.

Pokfulham Village, Pukfulham Road, Hongkong Island

For the community arts biennale 2013 Karen Pows studio in collaboration with students made the plaques for places of interest in the village using mosaic . Unfortunately we could only find the plaque for the Silo although we walked around a lot in the narrow streets of this dwelling.

Did you know that Hongkong had its own cattle farm and diary production? It turned out that Karin Moorhouse had worked at the diary factory as a manager. Now hard to imagine given the developments of high rise over the past 40 years. The village stayed as a witness of the past of many ordinary people in Hongkong. Hopefully it will not give way to a high rise development.

This is the route we took that day and I am in awe what I saw and learned about Hongkongs living quarters, architecture, history, public transport systems. Thank you Karen Pow for producing all these mosaics that lead me and Karin through your city and thank you Karin for being such a wonderful host and guide. Without you I wouldn’t have learned about the diary farm, the clashes right under the mosaics of Ngau Tao Kok station and the new Nan Lion Garden.

Our mosaic route on January 13, 2020