The photographs to be found on these pages are more documentary than artistic. They seek to capture the mood and emotion of people and reflect the present situation. Many of the people in these shots I have only come to know fleetingly, as they provide direction, or are amused by the strange looking foreigner loitering on a street corner and inquire about where I am from and what I am doing. Some, with whom I came to share a regular if transient environment, I came to know better upon repeated visits. This provided me with increased opportunity to get the shots contained in the Faces albums.
In other albums my focus has been on the landscape, the natural and the built. I have attempted to represent the expance of each site and most often utilised a panoramic composition.
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China Street Art: construction site hoarding propaganda images
Hoarding around construction sites in my home country, like those in other western countries, are ideal canvases for graffiti artist, guerrilla bill posters and anyone else with a message to express. So much so that effort has been put into producing surfaces that deny such activities or warnings are posted.
In China such safety and security barriers take a different shape, in the form of a temporary brick wall, that dismantled at the end of construction, usually by a gang of migrant workers, from the rural provinces.
They also artistically beautified through images that promote state heritage and advise citizens of suitable behaviour. I was fortunate to see one under construction on recent and regular bus trips in the city of Ningbo. There is not much different in this example to other construction site perimeter walls in most other parts of China. But they do deteriorate quickly, exposed to the elements and and the scarring of building materials being hauled in and out of the site, so I ceased the opportunity to document this freshly painted example.
Divided into panels, this wall features quite excellent work of unknown artists. Panels include traditional pen and ink wash style landscape imagery: mountains and river, lone boatmen and farmers. some are in the well known reserved monochrome pallet, others are highlighted with more colour, there are even some declaring the influence of Impressionism and others with bold outlines and close up - through the trees perspectives. Collage and paper cut motifs are also present, as too are Asian style cartoonesque style figures, with big eyes and minute noses.
The subject matter ranges from family values, to road safety and the of the chest beating pride in the nation which is well illustrated in the form of the noble peasant, and 1960 style propaganda posters, the construction worker on one panel is a fine example.
They are punctuated with calligraphic text, which being illiterate in this society, I have know idea of the meaning, but suspect it matches the images. It’s not Banksy, and it’s not cutting edge graffiti with radical political messages, but they are rarely amended, tagged or deliberately damaged. While these images will never be recorded as art, even street art and their lifespan is limited they do provide an insight into the style and content accepted by the powers that be and are an interesting part of the Chinese streetscape.