China Residencies – listening, learning, dreaming up big plans.

Yesterday I had a great chat with Kira Simon-Kennedy. She is one of the founders of China Residencies, an amazing online resource for Artist in Residencies (AIRs). It also profiles artists and creative city guides for China. I talked her through my plans of starting my own AIR here in Yunnan. She gave invaluable feedback and encouragement.

Launch of the Dutch Culture Nights

This year AIRs are not an option because of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Still, next week I’m starting for real with my first cultural exchange event, but on a small scale. On Thursday, September 3, Wheatfield Bookstore in Kunming will host the first Dutch Culture Night and screen the film Inner Landscape. Two days later, the Linden Centre in Xizhou will screen the same film. The Consul-General of the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Koen Sizoo, will attend both events and formally open this first in what will hopefully become a long-running series. I’m excited and happy.

Change of scenery

Something else that got me very excited is looking around my temporary home and making plans to move here for the longer term. I’m looking after two cats and a gorgeously restored historical courtyard home in a village 8 kilometer north of Dali old town. I’m writing this seated at the long wooden table in the rustic kitchen. Occasionally I look out the window. Nothing happens here but the sun moving across the garden and ripening the pomegranates in the tree just outside the window. It’s peaceful and I’m at peace. This is also where I had my online meeting with China Residencies yesterday evening. I couldn’t wish for a nicer office.

My own historical Chinese courtyard home

Yesterday I found my own dream home and now I’m contemplating committing to my very own historical courtyard home. It would mean I could host the artists of my AIR on the huge first floor. I have already envisioned it as a big open studio space with a separate bedroom. Plenty of light will be coming in from the windows that will be cut out of the half-a-metre-thick back wall. The front of the house has a secluded courtyard, surrounded by rough and overgrown stone walls. Life here is ridiculously cheap so I would have to work very little and could focus on running the AIR, studying Chinese, venturing outdoors and cooking food fresh from the market.

Future China Residencies location?
Future China Residencies location?

Happy street

I’m connecting with all the nice people who are living a similar lifestyle here. It feels almost like a retreat, especially since I quit drinking alcohol about a month ago. I no longer need the coping mechanisms I was using when I was perpetually stressed out in my last job. If I really need to feel big city vibes I can cycle down to Dali Old Town and enjoy a coffee in a hipster cafe. Or, take the fast train to Kunming, only two hours away. I’ll sleep on for a few more nights, but my heart makes excited little jumps at the thought of spending more time here. A very healthy kind of happiness. A special experience that I would get to share it with my own China Residencies artists.

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