Sally Lai and Bob Dickenson In Conversation on Li-Yuan Chia

The Whitworth recently acquired twelve works by Chinese artist Li-Yuan Chia made during his time living near Hadrian’s Wall, five of which feature in the exhibition. In the first talk at the Saturday Supplement Sally Lai (Director, Chinese Arts Centre) and Bob Dickenson (Producer, BBC) joined us to discuss the making of a radio documentary on Li’s life and the continuing journey to establish him as one of the most important Chinese artists of the 20th century.

Bob on Manchester’s Li-Yuan Chia connection “Luckily for us his archive is held at John Rylands library, so we were straight down there. Anyone can make an appointment to see the as yet uncatalogued archive which consists of photos, sculptures, cameras…”

Sally on how the story was told “It was less like telling a linear story and more about who and where can we interview next, I had to be ready to travel at every moment. We formed a incredible picture of Li in a local context despite the fact that original TV and radio interviews with him have been lost”

Bob on Li’s legacy “Li was a maverick modernist – with parallels in his unusual settlement in the North of England only maybe to Kurt Schwitters”

Sally on Li’s legacy “Li is unique, but as David Nash said so is the landscape in which he settled”

The archive is available to view by appointment at John Rylands Library and more information about Li’s work and life can be found on the LYC Foundation website.


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