Fall in Richmond Park

One of the most idyllic places in London.

Good for a healing walk and long, meaningful conversation.

Or no talking at all.

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Location: Richmond TW10 5HZ

Opening time: 7:30 am – 8:00 pm (November – February)

Transport:  Richmond Station – National Rail or District Line (and then catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham)

 

 

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Columbia Road Flower Market

Honestly, I do not know how other people do it, but I am barely making it through this hectic, crazy (yet exciting) final year. The amount of work seems to require me to stay indoor and have my eyes fixed on various kinds of flat surfaces for the least of 8 hours per day. Sometimes I just wish that I was doing another Parks & Rec marathon but unfortunately, not all screens are equally entertaining.

Being a third-year student can be very stressful. No, it IS stressful, and hence, it is important to stay both physically and mentally healthy. From going out to breathe for 15 minutes a day, practicing kendo on every Friday to release all the stresses or spending half a day out walking in one of the parks that London has to offer – those are my attempts to stay balanced. However, when it seems like even those are too much to afford, then all I have left to do, is to contemplate the  white chrysanthemum pot – a manifestation of nature that I brought back from Columbia Road Flower Market a while ago, take a deep breath and hope that all the deadlines will soon pass so I can rush back into the arms of Mother Earth.

Below are some pictures I took during my visit to Columbia Road Flower Market. Hope that you can find and acquire your own nature companion/friend/emotional supporter here.

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Location:  Columbia Rd, London  E2 7RG

Opening hours:  8am-3pm Sun

How to get there: Hoxton/Shoreditch High St Overground

How I go about my choice of thesis topic

Time flies.

I am writing the last assignment of Year 2. It is probably also the last paper I have to write for a taught class. As of tomorrow, there will be only seminars, our Thesis and Major project in Year 3.

I am taking my time to write my thesis proposal. I have my checklist for choosing a subject in front of me. There are about 14 things in the list. I am stuck at the second one: subject should be of use in future career path.

I have changed my mind for about 4 times. I could not settle down with one idea for too long. Sustainability, arts management, art history, folk arts, traditional arts, art education, self-sufficient lifestyle, social design; they all are interesting topics. But their sparks didn’t last long enough as my curiosity soon found the answer for each knot they had to offer. The more I read, the more I became uncertain about what I wanted to do.

I told myself to keep reading. I told myself not to wait for inspiration to arrive to start working. Motivation is overrated. I just need to keep going; even if it means I have to start over and all over again. I just need to keep searching until I find my sparkle.

And I did. I found my topic roughly 48 hours before the deadline. As I am procrastinating, typing this here, there are about 16 hours left. And I still haven’t got a word out.  I started collecting all the books available to read for 9 hours continuously yesterday. My mind literally exploded, though in a good way. The euphoria it brought me was overwhelming, so much my jaw ached. This is it, I thought, this the kind of sign I am looking for. This is what keeps my curiosity captivated. And though I am still confused and haven’t got my research questions articulated, I have my keywords and know where I am heading to.

Now my proposal will probably not be 2500 words as required. But as I continue to read, I know for sure that together we will go far.

Okay, maybe that was a little overconfident. Risky, and possibly way too ambitious. I am actually a bit paranoid. Sometimes I wonder why I always have a thing for abstraction. I wish Michael was here to give me a push, even if it was as brutal as he did when I was heading to a mist in quest of an answer for my entangled curiosity.

“This is tough! But go for it anyway!” – As he might have said.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, now it’s time to take the first one.

“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence.” (Doyle [1890] 1995: 89-90).

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Me wandering in Arita, a little town in the middle of nowhere, an accidental stop during my journey around the Southern of Japan, 2013.

*October and November 2016 updates:

Okay, my topic has changed constantly in the course of time. It is changing as I am writing this sentence right at this very moment. The good thing is that it still keeps me up at nights thinking relentlessly in excitement for the unknowns that the journey I am about to embark on has to offer.

 

Any Amount of Books

Located on one of the central streets of London – Charing Cross – it is not hard to notice the lovely, cozy and inviting window displays of Any Amount of Books shop when you first emerge from below the ground at Leicester Square underground tube station. Any Amount of Books is famous for its large collection of antique leather-binding books, ranged from rare – medium rare to super rare. The other collections span from non-fiction areas such as: design, architecture, history, art, psychology, philosophy, cooking to many different kinds of fiction: children, Irish fairly tale collection, contemporary children literature, you name it. What’s more, outside of the shop there will always be 4 racks of discounted books, which are at only 1£/each or 3 for 1£. Amazing isn’t it? What I love about Any Amount of Books is the cozy atmosphere mainly brought about by its vintage interiors and architecture design. Those yellow Christmas lights dangling by the windows, the little metal bell on the door and of course, not to mention that classic pungent smell of old, but well-preserved books. (However, not every old bookshop smells the same, I thought they did, but Quinto Bookshop right next door has proved me wrong). Anyway, this post is just the first of my bookshop review series. London has so many quirky, but in an exciting way, bookshops to offer so stay tuned.

Instagram: #sambookshoplist

Any Amount of Books: 

http://www.anyamountofbooks.com

56 Charing Cross Road London

WC2H 0QA England

V&A, 20th Nov

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The DMC 2nd year had a fabulous trip to V&A, exploring the myths of Indian weaving, its techniques, beginning and development through thick and thin at the Fabric of India exhibition. We also participated in the Design Culture Salon, an open discussion with guest speakers, experts, tutors and researchers in various fields  held by Guy Julier, this time topic was: Design Culture Salon 18: Is designing for behaviour change ‘creepy’?

Here are some pictures:

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just me and Rebecca contemplating on art.

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Ai Wei Wei @RA

I had no prior knowledge of Ai Wei Wei before coming to this exhibition. People literally went crazy about it. I saw advertisements everywhere. Posts and reviews and articles flooded my newsfeed. Who is this Ai Wei Wei exactly? Where is he from? What does he do? Why is everyone talking about him?

And so I went to see his exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art – his first major exhibition in the UK, and in the world after a long while. Ai Wei Wei’s story is long. His arts, or what he claimed to be ‘political arts’, receive global attention, controversially or highly acclaimed by the contemporary art world.

Meanwhile, my first impression was, no matter what it is, and on so many levels, “It’s huge”.  Let me walk you through some of the objects on display that have left me with thoughts and questions.

#1. Tree. The literal meaning of “huge”.

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“Ai’s trees are made from parts of dead trees that are brought down from the mountains of southern China and sold in the markets of Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Ai transports these to his studio in Beijing where they are made into trees. As he says, “it’s just like trying to imagine what the tree looked like”. Held together by hidden mortise and tenon joins and large industrial bolts, the trees look natural from a distance and artificial from close up. Tree has been likened to the modern Chinese nation, where ethnically diverse peoples have been brought together to form ‘One China’, a state-sponsored policy aimed at protecting and promoting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  – Adrian Locke, Curator

Watch the timelapse video of Tree’s installation:

#2. Straight (2008 – 2012)

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In 2008, Ai Weiwei gathered a group called ‘Citizen’s Investigation’ for his quest in recovering the truth about the number of students that are victims of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake took place in Sichuan, which he believed had been covered up by the authorities, and at the same time uncovering the truth of Chinese officials corruption. He wrote on his blog:” To remember the departed, to show concern for life, to take responsibility, and for the potential happiness of the survivors…we will seek out the names of each departed child, and we will remember them.” The list, which had accumulated to 5385 names as of 14 March 2009, is now displayed on the wall of Royal Academy of Arts. 

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The work composed of 90 tonne of straightened steel rods, used to reinforce concrete building and collected, mangled from the site of the earthquake that devastated Sichuan in 2008. ‘Straight’ stands in for the victims of the natural disaster, which was exacerbated by the government’s cavalier attitude towards construction safety protocols.

Tim Marlow, artistic director of the RA and co-curator of the exhibition, said: ” When he was released, he came back to the studio and the first thing he heard was the team working on the rebars. He said it was incredibly powerful.”

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#3. Cao.

Hundred of interlocking marble sculptures of grass, with a marble troller. The word ‘cao’ means grass, but it is often used in Chinese literature to refer to the common people. And occasionally people can also find it in place of swearwords online.

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#4. River Crabs (2010- ).

“The word for crab, ‘he xie’, is a homonym for harmonious, we are told, and much bandied about in Chinese government circles. There is not much harmony here among the crustaceans. The word is also used a lot on the internet in China, as slang for censorship. Thinking Ai might shut up after his 81-day incarceration in 2011, and the bulldozing of his newly completed Shanghai studio by the authorities, the Chinese government got it wrong.” – Adrian Searle. 

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#5. Chandelier.

This piece left people in awe, and an aching neck.

Chandelier is a a five-meter tall chandelier of crystal and light. Another luxury, the chandelier is a symbol of extravagance for Ai, who grew up in exile without lights or candles during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Left alone all the political elements and background, I think this piece is by far the most efficient use of scale and quantity I have ever seen. Beautiful and oddly satisfying.

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#6. (Ah. Here is the portrait of the man) Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995.

While others accused him of devastating the history, in Ai’s perspective, ‘transforming’ the 2000-year-old antique urn to a new form is the true appreciation of its value. (In fact, two urns, not one, were sacrificed in the making of this work, due to the failure of Ai’s photographer to capture the first urn’s fall to the ground).

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Ai Weiwei, according to ArtReview 2011, is named the most powerful artist in the world. Though it was an unusual choice as ‘Ai’s varied, scattershot work doesn’t fetch the highest prices at auction’, and despite ‘critics, while they admire his achievement, don’t treat him as a master who has transformed the art of his period’, Ai has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. Having spent his formative years as an artist in New York in the 1980s, Ai’s criticism of China portrayed through his daring and politically charged works makes him the perfect artist to hold up a mirror both to the failings and potential of this powerful nation. He would use medium or genre of all kinds – sculpture, ready-mades, photography, architecture, performance, tweets and blogs – to deliver his pungent message.

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More on Ai Wei Wei here.

New Blog Address

Hi friends,

I’ve just changed my blog URL from www.thenewdesigncultures.wordpress.com to www.entangledcuriosity.wordpress.com. I got the old name in one of the first classes of Introduction to Study in Higher Education and obviously, I wasn’t thinking too much about it. (I just randomly inserted a name to get the blog published properly really). It’s been a wonderful year with BA Design Cultures and I am moving on to Sophomore in under a weeks (FINALLY!). Hence I think, it’s about time to get a new name. You know, new experiences, new ventures, new name!

While brainstorming for my new project with the DC ‘cutiies’ (currently known as ProjectW316 – details soon to be updated!), I came across “Entangled Curiosity”. I think it’s just simply perfect to describe whatever I’m currently writing here, as curiosity is vital and the root of everything, while entanglement, well, isn’t that the other name of Design Cultures?

So there it is! I’m very excited and happy with the new update. I hope it will always get me inspired and motivated to explore this beautiful world in the scopes of Design Cultures. Well, isn’t it where ‘entangled curiosity’ supposed to take you?

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