Bi Rongrong: Breathe Residency
2 August – 2 November 2014
Bi Rongrong is an artist who focuses on drawing as a way of taking notes on daily life. Frequently inspired and influenced by her surroundings, Bi Rongrong observes nature, the structures of objects and the relationship of objects to their surrounding environment, in order to find ways of presenting the 3D world as a two dimensional drawn image. During her three month long residency at CFCCA, Bi Rongrong was reflecting on previous works and recent exhibitions, looking at ways in which she could progress her artistic practice – moving on from the detailed still-life image to produce site-specific work more reflective of the constant flux of the modern environment.
Speaking of her experience of Manchester through her residency, Bi Rongrong has said:
“Taking residency in a studio located at the centre of the city, allows me to easily to see what is going on in the city. I like to see the posters, prints, graffitis in the shops or on the streets, which has offered me lots of inspiration for my own work. In my few recent drawings, I have worked from my photos of the poster walls at the outside of Islington mill, and some graffiti in the Northern Quarter area. The poster walls from Islington mill is like the collages of the time. Different artists have pasted posters or painted artwork on the walls, then these are torn down, and pasted or painted over again. The conscious and unconscious layers put together, for me, is the same as the process of making drawings. By the inspiration, I have re-composed and re-collaged the images I collected, which brought me a fresh and enjoyable process to make drawings.”
As Bi Rongrong’s residency draws to a close we took the opportunity to ask her to reflect on her experience of Manchester:
What first attracted you to Manchester?
Bi Rongrong: A curator recommended me, someone that I really respected, and he said that this is a good residency opportunity and that I should go for it. Also I have never been to England before; I studied in Holland but never England, so it was a whole new experience.
How have you found Manchester – has it inspired you?
BR: I really like Manchester a lot. For me the energy is quite strong, I’m not sure how to quite describe it. Firstly the whole colour tone of the city, it’s different from what I’ve experienced before. It’s quite black, a strong black, but exciting too. There are loads of hidden paintings, posters and graffiti, so I feel that it’s really full of creativity.
Do you feel that people in the UK can learn from your work?
BR: I guess I’m learning from them. I have studied art for quite a few years and have practiced for some time and I have my own habits and way of doing things. Here in the Northern Quarter I see so many interesting things which inspires me, so I learn from them, it helps me to change some of my ways.
How do you think you will take your experience of Manchester back with you?
BR: I think the pace of life here is very different from living in Shanghai. Shanghai is always very, very busy, but here I can see it is different. I like the speed of life here a lot more, so I will try my best to keep this rhythm when I go back to Shanghai – which will be difficult. But when I am really busy I will remember my life here, and try to slow down. Here you always get time to yourself – to do things like go to a gig in the evening. This is perfect for me but in Shanghai it is not always possible.
Finally, could you describe your experience in Manchester in three words?
BR: Colourful (in hidden places), Convenient and a little bit sad (because I really like the life here and I will be sad to leave).
More info: www.birongrong.com