Travelling to the Wonderland
- Where:China Room 44 and the John Madejski Garden
DISPLAY: Chinese artist Xu Bing transforms the V&A’s John Madejski Garden and presents an accompanying display of sketches, calligraphy and paintings.
The John Madejski Garden is transformed into an ethereal utopia inspired by the classic Chinese fable Tao Hua Yuan (Peach Blossom Spring). Written by the scholar Tao Yuanming in 421AD, Tao Hua Yuan describes a land in which people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature unaware of the outside world. This dream-like landscape is created around the central water feature of the John Madejski Garden, built up from layers of thinly-cut stones collected from five different places in China. Clusters of ceramic houses, each one handmade and coloured to reflect different traditional styles, are placed among the stones. Modern elements such as small LCD screens with cartoon animations have also been introduced into the landscape to represent the co-existence of ancient and modern in contemporary China, and present everyday life. Lighting and mist also change the atmosphere of the installation depending on the time of day.
In China, room 44, Xu Bing presents a display of works on paper relating to Travelling to the Wonderland. This includes a new large-scale calligraphy work, based on historical writings inspired by Tao Hua Yuan. Also on display are albums of paintings and sketches that reveal the process of creating the garden installation.
Xu Bing (1955) lives and works in Beijing. He has received international recognition for his printmaking and installations that question the idea of communicating meaning through language. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous institutions worldwide and shown at the 45th and 51st Venice Biennales.
Travelling to the Wonderland has been created by Xu Bing for the V&A with support from Jing & Kai
Displays complement our permanent collections, there are many free temporary displays around the V&A. They range in size from a single case to a room.