In the Sunshine

Weimin He

June 2004, written for an exhibition catalogue: ‘‘Through Another’s Eyes – To Sense and Understand Northern Ireland, An Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Woodcut Prints by He Weimin’’ published by the Linen Hall Library, Belfast 2004

The friendly people and the green land of Northern Ireland have always inspired my art since I came to Belfast nearly five years ago. I have tried to use different approaches to depict this land and the people, such as ink paintings on paper and on silk, water colours and sketches. Although I like to use digital camera, sketch is the best way for me to record what I have sensed and it is an effective way of visual perception and the woodcuts presented in this exhibition came mainly from sketches.

From my understanding, time is flowing forward and will never come back again, so I feel very moment, every seemingly common scene in daily life is unique and precious. To sense and to understand the seemingly common scene and to interpret what I have absorbed using woodcut language has always fascinated me.

It is so fortunate to be able to benefit from both Western and Chinese culture. The simplicity in form and richness in content of ancient Chinese seal cutting has encouraged me to create a new language of woodcut. Single block black and white woodcut is a challenging art form, not like multi-coloured print where error can be remedied by another block. On the contrary, on black and white woodcut, any defects will be obvious from the print and all of your personality and art ability will be embodied on the block and print. In ancient Chinese art, black and white does not mean lack of colour; good use of black and white will indicate colour or even conceal colours. Western culture has endowed me with an open mind. On the subject matter, although oriental in background, I do not intend to seek novelty using a tourist eye, but depict what touches my heart. On the form of art, I do not care too much about fashion in art, but prefer to use a simple technique, to express either everyday scenes or my own emotions, freely and naturally.

Northern Ireland has long been connected with conflict. After accidentally experiencing a life-threatening event some two years ago, I have a new understanding about peace. Sunshine is relatively rare in Northern Ireland. I once say many people sitting on the ground and enjoying the sunshine in the Botanic Gardens with many doves flying around, and was deeply moved by this scene. The sun generously gives sunlight to everyone no matter what religion he or she is, or what race he or she is. Sunshine brings people from all backgrounds together, peacefully and harmoniously. This scene was deeply imprinted into my brain and, after several months’ hard work, the woodcut ‘In the Sunshine’ was completed.


Sketch for ' In the Sunshine' 2002                                       Detail of woodcut 'In the Sunshine'         Go to woodcut 'In the Sunshine' ►