'The Descendents of the Dragon.
Did you all hear that spooky laughing and thunder too, LOL!
(Halloween is close, mwahahahahaha).
But, back to the world of reality.
The descendents of the dragon is a term that the chinese people have used for centuries in reference to themselves. The theme of the piece however, is actually inspired by the culture of the Chinese people. China is home to the world's oldest continuous civilisation. Leaving all the facts and figures behind for a moment, I wondered when doing a little research about chinese customs and culture, in a civilisation as old as this one, there had obviously been many changes over the centuries. What had changed I wondered? What has been discarded over time and what has survived and still holds a place in the Chinese culture of today? And so to research. Now didn't that just keep rolling and rolling along. Suffice to say that I found so much information it became an overload. In order to present a piece within the confines of the book structure it was necessary to do a lot of whittling of ideas, honing the project down to something achievable both in terms of dimensions, and information size but also in obtaining the support items required to do justice to the ideals I was trying to present here. The piece for Lisa's book here reflects just a small part of what I have found. And so to the piece.
Here it is, it just needs to be slid onto the book posts.
But wait I hear you say what's this? There's something that resembles a book structure and some red bag thingy, what is going on?
We'll get back to the bag thingy a bit later, first to the pages for Lisa's book. A piece always needs a good introduction, something to capture your attention. Here it's a set of doors, (yes Kim has done doors again! I love them, so effective and dramatic!)
The doors here are based on designs found within the forbidden city. I love all the drama of those huge red doors!
Under the doors...
a bit of an explanation about the piece for the viewer.
Over the page and...
meet Long, the chinese dragon.
Chinese dragons are fequently depicted with a flaming pearl under their chin. The pearls is associated with prosperity, wealth and good luck.
The dragon here is made from layers of fabric paper to give it depth and dimension. The flame surrounding the pearl is made from strands of silk fibres. The background colour, looking quite washed out here from the camera (it is much richer in person) is traditionally the colour retained solely for the use of the Emperor under Chinese custom as is also the figure of the five toed dragon. The background fabrics are all satins on this page resulting in loads of trauma for both the camera and yours truly at picture taking time.
Opposite Long, the key book. The key book is the depository of the rest of the piece for Lisa's book. It is a collection of fabric quilts sewn together as a book structure. Each page highlights one particular aspect of chinese cultural beliefs. All are still relevent to chinese customs and practices today although they have undergone some significant changes over time. Each page of the book has been designed so that each colour and embellishment used here is symbollic of current beliefs and practices. They were chosen to reflect and highlight the main theme of each page. Although mostly of a fabric construction, any paper used in the book structure was sourced from China to reflect the importance of paper in Chinese cultural history but also to maintain the ideals of the books original theme. Each page also contains a piece of literature also chosen to reflect the theme of the page, even if that theme may be a little obscure by western standards. With the exception of the last page, each page has a piece or excerpt of poetry attached. Most of the poetry here is from the Tang dynasty and many of the pieces were written by the master of Tang poetry, Li Bai. Poetry is regarded as the pinnacle of Chinese literature and reached it's height under the Tang dynasty. It is still held as the foremost form of the art today. The last page differs in that the quote here is taken from what is regarded as one of the four classic novels of Chinese literature, but more on that later too. All the beads in the book are made from bone, lotus seeds, wood or gemstones, including freshwater pearls, coral, amethyst, agate, and lepidolite. The fabrics include, silks, satins, cottons, a few man made pieces and chinese silk brocades.
The key book free of it's confines.
Onto the book.
I decided that it would take forever to post all the pics and describe the embellishments in detail so here's a little slide show instead.
(You can click on it to bring it up to full screen size if you like.)
Oh and about that bag at the top.
Well, like I said there is so much background detail attached to this piece I decided to make a scroll with all of that information on it to fill the viewer in on the details. The scroll is made from linen, paper and silk and when finished measured over 2 metres. As it is too large to fit comfortably within the structure I decide to make a matching silk bag to house the scroll. So now the book has a doggy baggy for all the extras, LOL!
This piece was such a pleasure to make and work in. It certainly presented some wonderful challenges too. (Photography was one of them, all that reflective shine from satin and silk!!!) It is quite different from most of the other work so I hope Lisa likes it. Now to package it all up and send it on it's way. Yay Alicia, watch this space! Now it's back to the studio and onto the next pulpy book that's been waiting for me. Oh dear, hopefully I can find my way out of the studio a little faster this time!