He An: Breathe Residency
27 November 2003 – 27 February 2004
He An was the first artist to take part in the Breathe Residency and adapted to the environment very well. By having a space that encompasses a living space and studio, we were curious to see how this would influence the artists and their practice. In reality this makes for a very intensive residency, and one that is extremely productive. It was most rewarding for us to see how an artist would put our careful planning into full use, and He An was able to make full use of the space available. This was He An’s first trip outside China, yet his work had focused on the huge influx of Western ideals and imagery into China, and how the globalisation of China has affected Chinese society.
For He An to come face to face with a culture he has only ever known through second hand sources had a major impact upon him, both professionally and personally. He was open to networking opportunities and enjoyed the cultural aspects of Manchester and London, where he was able to view work that had inspired his development as an artist in the flesh. What was interesting for He An was to compare the different working methods of artists in the UK and China, which he was able to do through studio visits in both cities. The huge costs of specialist labour in the UK compared to that in China, forced He An to radically re-think ideas, which completely changed his working methods. He was thus able to spend a greater time planning ideas, and constructing these ideas in a more methodical way. Through this he learnt how to develop ideas on paper, and have a greater input into the design of this work throughout the whole process. The impact of this can be viewed in the subsequent work he produced on his return to China.