Sunday, 26 January 2014

'Travelling to the Wonderland' by Xu Bing

Celebrated Chinese artist Xu Bing has transformed the V&A’s John Madejski Garden with a new installation inspired by the classic Chinese fable The Peach Blossom Spring.  The fable, written in 421AD, describes the moment when a lost fisherman discovers a wonderland hidden behind a mountain where inhabitants live in harmony with nature.

The Madejski garden's main feature is a stone-paved oval, with surrounding steps and water jets, which can be filled with water as a reflecting pool or drained  for displays.   'Travelling to the Wonderland' is an arrangement of various mountain-like types or rock transported from China enclosing the water feature.   The mountain-like rock formations are referred to as scholar's rocks or Gonshi in China and similar arrangements can be found in Japanese culture (Suiseki) and Korean culture (Suseok).   The stones are appreciated for their shape and colours and were used for meditation, contemplation and sometimes simply a way of introducing the wider landscape to the indoor environment.

In 1995, Zahn Wang began creating a series of artificial rocks in stainless steel.   Stainless steel sheets were hammered on to real rock faces and then welded together and finely polished.   Many of these works are Gonshi and one has to wonder how long it will be until there is a Bing-Wang collaboration.

It would be quite easy to recreate the less complicated Gonshi from glassfibre and these will be added to the 'to do' list at

Artificial rocks by Zahn Wang

'Travelling to the Wonderland' by Xu Bing

Artificial rock by Zahn Wang
Artificial rock by

Artificial stones by

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