About This Project

In 1984, I travelled through Hong Kong to Guangzhou for the start of a backpacking trip across China to the famed Sunday market in the Silk Road oasis town of Kashgar in the far northwest. On the way I took in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Qinghai Lake and all the rail towns in between. This five w eek trip inspired me to come back in 1985 for five months to do a short Mandarin language course. I was hooked! In 1986, I received a scholarship to study Chinese, and five years later I founded Red Gate Gallery, the first private gallery of contemporary Chinese art in Beijing.


Over 25 years, we have welcomed many Australian artists who have come to explore the energy and challenges of China, a good number of them staying or returning regularly to pursue their practice and careers. Later, through our artist-in-residence program, a major initiative has developed to provide studio and head space and community engagement allowing artists from all disciplines to pursue new directions by trying to absorb all facets of Beijing life.


In the early 80s, I characterised Beijing as moving at the pace of a big country town – no hurry at all! Today, this city of almost 25 million people is racing towards true-blue socialist modernity by 2049 – the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Right now you can effortlessly watch and buy anything from anywhere on your phone, be totally throttled by the traffic and baffled by urban planning, but then just casually ride home on one of the million plus share bikes waiting to serve you!


This visual chaos is the adrenalin that feeds the creative appetite of so many artists. In contrast, Australia offers a visual serenity where as one visiting Chinese artist to the Bundanon Residency on New South Wale’s south coast “watched kangaroos in the morning and wombats in the evening” day after day. The result is the same though – room and time to refresh and refine an artist’s practice.


Brian Wallace is Founder and Director of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing.

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