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Artist exhibits Diamonds and Rust on Xiamen residency

Moniek Schrijer spent three months living and creating jewellery in Xiamen, China, as last year's Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) artist in residence.

Moniek was hosted in Xiamen by the Chinese European Art Centre (CEAC). In this Q&A we chat with Moniek about her time in Xiamen and the works she created there.

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A chain of tiny shopping carts

Can you describe the works you created in Xiamen?

I made jewellery work, using materials I had brought over from New Zealand as well as materials I sourced in China from Taobao (a Chinese online shopping website), antique markets, and touristy shops.

The works explore notions of memory, digital storage, cryptocurrency and the ancient coin form, packaging, the replica and the mass produced.

What was the ‘art scene’ like over there?

I would say varied and, like most things in China, always evolving. My hosts at CEAC seem to have had a big impact on the creative scenes and spaces that were originally ticketed for sky rise development in Xiamen. So go them!

What was living in Xiamen like?

Beach-front houses in Xi An

My experience in Xiamen was quite amazing; some parts weirdly felt like Wellington, which is Xiamen’s sister city, so maybe that’s the reason why.

I was based in a complex right on the beach front, which lent itself to a tropical and relaxing vibe. The island is compact with a lot of construction in parts and a new underground system being built. You could really encounter the old and new within close proximity.

I did not feel the immensity of China until I went to the mainland on a trip to Shanghai.

Jewellery hanging from a wooden display stand

Can you talk about exhibiting your works in Xiamen?

Yes, so that’s all part of the residency. You exhibit the works at CEAC near the completion of your time in Xiamen. The organisation of the exhibition is pretty much taken care for by the CEAC team. They are a fantastic group of people!

My show opened on the 25th of November and was called Diamonds and Rust. It got a good turnout, which was a bit unexpected because there was a photography symposium opening just over on the mainland, and photography is very popular over there.

Why do you think experiences like this are important/beneficial for an artist?

Expanding ones horizons culturally, personally, and professionally can be a positive experience.

Do you think your time in Xiamen will influence your future works or life back in New Zealand?

Practice wise I don’t think so. I doubt you will see a Xiamen influence continuing in my work. I feel that the pieces that I made could have only been made in Xiamen - they are of that time, place and experience. But in saying this, there are a couple of necklaces that were visualised there and have become small editions, which is something I don't usually do, as most of my works are just one offs.

Life back in New Zealand has been busy since the day I returned home. I would love some of the comforts that I had in China. Life felt heathier there, strange ay?

WARE is an artist’s residency programme managed by Wellington City Council in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation. 

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28 March 2018