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Inspirational Trips for Arts Students

By Kimberly Bond

Posted: 7th May 2013 16:50

Get Inspired In Asia

Although many countries in the Asian regions have suffered years of tight reign on creative expression, they are now gradually becoming contenders in the ever-changing global art scene.  With beauty dusted over every landscape and stories of noble pasts written into the grounds, it would be hard to resist the urge to fill your entire sketchbook. 

India

This breathtakingly beautiful country is abound with infinite variety, cultural diversity and rich heritages; the very foundations of its dazzling art and culture scene.  From the spicy flavours of Indian cuisine to the mesmerising song and dance rituals, each city has their own unique traditions telling a different tale of Indian philosophy and history. 

India’s visual arts are mainly manifested through the talent of craftsmanship, and it is estimated around 23 million inhabitants are engaged in the field.  This art form has survived centuries; the first references to Indian handicrafts date back to 3000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilisation.  However, Indian paintings also portray the vibrant Indian history as pre-historic rock paintings can still be observed in the town of Bhimbhetka.  Bold, lively, colourful and vigorous, the style of Indian paintings has progressed through time, from the symbolic use of colour in the Miniature Paintings of the 6th Century, right through to the Colonial Period where unspoken truths and realities were depicted through the stroke of a brush. 

Said to be India’s cultural backbone, Mumbai is a distinct place of tradition fused with contemporary lifestyle, and is home to a diverse ethnic population.  Comprising of Gujaratis, Muslims, Parsis and Maharashtrians, the eclectic mix of beliefs create the perfect site on which to draw artistic inspiration.  Several art galleries prevail in Mumbai where you can see the dynamic fusion of ancient history and modern life, from traditional wall paintings to inspiring new-age Indian photography.

Thailand

A country bound with natural beauty and a deep past, Thailand’s arts and crafts heritage is a rich one that dates back hundreds of years.  Influenced by the western world and neighbouring Asian countries, Thai art is a fusion of worlds and stories that reflect the innate society it has become today.

An infamous form of art is that of Thai religious art, which is depicted in specific time periods and eras.  The wide variation of colour, technique and style used through the ages are the results of the patronage or leading ruler of that specific time, emphasising the power they had over creative freedom.  However most of this country’s artistic inspiration will be drawn from the reputable trade skills they possess, from artisan silk creations to intricate wood carvings; the endless array of handmade craft shows the rich cultural heritage in each busy city and every tiny village.  Discover the popular workshops of artistic haven Chiang Mai - also known as the Rose of the North - where you can physically engage in Thai’s love of craftsmanship, or visit Bangkok’s famous weekend market Chatuchak where you’ll see traditional methods meet contemporary creative ideas. 

However don’t think that Thailand’s art culture is restricted to handmade crafts, as the true heritage and history is bound with the beautiful panorama; tranquil temples nestled within tropical oasis’ against the glorious orange sunset.  Bangkok is home to some of Thailand’s most important and famous Temples that contain a true reading of this country’s heart and soul.  Not only are these monuments beautifully decorated, but they also contain some of Thailand’s most important pieces of art in the form of images and statues of Buddha and other murals and sculptures.  Visit the Temple of Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddhist Temple in Thailand, or the Temple of Dawn, which is considered the most awe-inspiring Temple in the land with its imposing 70m spire being one of the country’s most prestigious landmarks. 

Hong Kong

After the 1997 transfer of sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong has gained a unique local culture and succeeded in creating its own identity.  The combination of British and Han Chinese traditions have shaped this nation in every aspect of social construction, including cuisine, law, politics and education.  With western culture influencing heavily upon Hong Kong, the notion of entertainment is longstanding in their arts culture. 

The Manhua comic books provide the most consistent form of art, with the style often reflecting that of Japanese Manga.  Used by Sun Yat-sen as anti-Qing propaganda in 1911, Manhua represents the significant struggles of transitional political periods and arduous times of war in Hong Kong.  The earliest Manhua-esque drawings can be dated back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties in forms of pottery, stone carvings and paintings, including the famous satirical drawing entitled ‘Peacocks’ from the early Qing dynasty. 

Although proud of its vibrant past, Hong Kong also relishes in contemporary culture, brimming with skyscrapers, modern architecture and the western influence of social progression.  The Hong Kong Arts Fair (ART HK) is a brilliant example of this nation’s attempts to be considered a reputable international art hub.  Established in 2007, ART HK has grown rapidly in the art circuit, showcasing world-class galleries and creating a platform for new artists to be recognised on a global scale.  Hong Kong also compromises the third installation of Art Basel, the Swiss art fair that demonstrates new-age approaches to the meaning of art and congregates the finest examples of classic pieces alongside abstract contemporary works. 

China

China is one of the oldest civilisations on Earth, thought to have over 5,000 years of amazing history.  This culture is fascinating in the sense it exudes beauty and charm, yet the communist rulings defy any creative freedom or expression, causing many disputes surrounding the existence of a Chinese art culture altogether.  However, long before records began, China had already generated a distinct taste for elegant art, such as painting, calligraphy and origami, which still prevail in today’s society.

The most purest forms of art derives from the Chinese language; calligraphy.  Still admired and practised in Eastern-Asian regions where Chinese characters are used, this visual art represents the simplicity of an art form, taking inspiration from the unique Chinese alphabet.  The pictorial letters were developed in the Shang Dynasty as early as 1700 BC, and prove integral in regards to China’s art history, as many characters were inspired by inscribed design elements that adorned ancient Chinese relics.  Paintings from Imperial times (the most highly treasured art of this period) also expressed the simple beauty of the country, with paintings of the Tang Dynasty often depicting nature in its most truest and realistic form.  Chinese Paintings follow a similar technique to calligraphy using ink and a brush rather than the western practice of oil paintings.  Adorned on silk and exquisite fabrics, these paintings are the oldest continued tradition in the world.

Over the generations, China has struggled with war and conflict but it has also seen times of great cultural development.  After many years of dealing with communist restrictions, the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956 encouraged citizens to openly express their views regarding the communist society through art.  At first the movement was a success, until the Communist Party of China’s chairman Mao Zedong called a stop to the artistic revival once he felt threatened by the visual messages being absorbed in the public sphere.  However, despite the closing of art schools and the cancellation of art journals during this time, China transgressed to a new age of cultural reform.  Art schools have been reinstated and new styles of technique are being experimented with.

Round Up

The history buried deep in Asia is an artists dream, as every piece of craft, painting or stroke of a letter contains a remarkable story of the country’s journey from past to present.  Evoke your creative intentions in Asia and be inspired by their artistic rising against tight rulings. 

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