Exhibition: Story of Rice

Have just been to see 'Story of Rice 3' at New Walk Museum. Really interesting, and worth a visit if you haven't already been. The installation - a series of neon lights - is part of a much larger collaborative project that the artist, Suki Chan, is working on with the Chinese communities in Leicester and London and in China.

The focus is, predictably, on rice and it's key role in cultural and personal identity. The resource room, adjacent to the installation, consists of audio-visuals (a DVD of edited interviews with people in China and Britain talking about their personal 'relationship' with rice, covering diverse topics as when best to sow (during the month of 'excited insects'), how it used to be sold in China (apparently facilitated by a system of weights and pulleys!), famine and the decline of rice farming during the Great Leap Forward and the quality (or lack) of modern rice. Visitors are asked to submit their own stories of rice, on postcards (displayed in the gallery), and in drawings using graphics software (one of the computer monitors wasn't working, which was a shame). Visitors can also listen to recordings via phone handsets mounted on the wall, mostly in Chinese - which bemused some visitors. In fact, I wish I had had someone with me who could read characters, as I think that would have added an extra dimension to my appreciation of the installation, in particular.

I was amused by the reaction of some visitors: 'Story of Rice. Huh. Don't tell me this is about the food, rice [er, yes!].' 'What the hell is all this about then?' 'Oh, it's just boring stuff in here'. But I was thoroughly irritated by the parents of small children with particularly loud feet, using the gallery space as a playground. Now, I'm not one for reverential behaviour in museums and galleries, but really this was ridiculous. Screaming, shouting, whinging...and that was just the parents. ;) Getting very intolerant in me old age!

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent. There's a lovely website of the whole 'Story of Rice' project online (which can also be accessed in the gallery), which includes images of the installation at New Walk, and lots of other resources. And, more information about the artist can be found here.

The second of the 'China Talks' season exhibitions at the New Walk Museum presents the work of three artists from Leshan in Sichuan province, who paint contemporary landscapes in a fairly traditional style. I particularly enjoyed the graphic style of Huang Zhongxin. If only I had a spare £500 hanging around...!

I am now racking my brains to think how I could incorporate a discussion of these two exhibitions in my thesis, when I should be thinking about more pressing issues like unpacking (I moved house yesterday).

Anyone else been to any good (or bad) exhibitions recently?


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