In 2004 Dunedin-based painter and printmaker Simon Kaan was the first recipient of an Asia:NZ/Creative New Zealand (CNZ) residency at Beijing’s Red Gate Gallery.
Born in 1971 to a Chinese father and a Ngāi Tahu/Scottish mother, Simon had always recognised the influence of his dual heritage in his work. The residency was not his first trip to China – the year before he’d spent three months in Guangzhou with his partner, but without official status he hadn’t been able to pursue his career.
That was all to change in 2004. “No matter what happened there, it was always going to be a turning point,” he told CNZ on his return from Beijing. “It’s been so valuable for me to work out of New Zealand and to work among the artists’ community in Beijing.”