In the heart of Shanghai 在上海的中心
24cms (W) x 30cms (H)
Oil on Panel
I was approached about doing a painting for a charity art event in Shanghai. The charity, Heart to Heart, Shanghai funds operations for disadvantaged chinese children who have congenital heart defects.
So at a very literal level, this is about a little girl being led towards a brighter future (the essence of the charity). I also wanted to capture what I consider to be another aspect of Shanghai's character (or heart) which are the old alleyways and lanes. These claustrophobic, sometimes grimey little networks of streets were once the main dwellings of Shanghainese citizens (in fact a lot of people I work with grew up in such areas). They're very different to the european communities I am used to; as people seem to live on top of each other; sharing kitchens, bathrooms, bathing in the street, drying laundry in public etc. Due to their largely unfit for purpose housing (cold, leaky, often unhygienic) and the vast economic potential of the land on which they exist, a lot of these areas are being evacuated and flattened; with the people are moved to more modern accommodation; and the land being converted to malls, offices, creative spaces and apartment blocks. In one sense, I see this as a replacement of the heart of the city. The modern version may well be much better on many different dimensions but I want to capture some of the historic heart before it's gone.