SHEN Jiawei

History painter

About This Project

In 1993, four years after I moved to Australia, I was in the University of Sydney’s Mitchell Library, and discovered over a thousand photographs of old China, by George Ernest Morrison.


This Australian, who was China correspondent for The Times at the turn of the last century and former adviser to the President of the Republic of China, was also known as ‘Morrison of Peking’. But he was almost forgotten in China.


I thought that these pictures, lying in the library for decades, were just waiting to be discovered by someone, who one day would take them ‘back’ to China. I believed that I was that person.


Ten years after I made the discovery at Mitchell Library, the Fujian Education Press began publishing the Morrison series. The editor of this modest publishing house, Lin Guanzhen, paid attention to this gap in the history of Sino-Australian cultural relations. The series includes two Morrison biographies written by Australian authors, two doctoral dissertations written by Chinese historians and Morrison’s masterpiece An Australian in China.


The two great photo albums compiled by Dou Kun and I – Old China through G.E. Morrison’s Eyes and G.E. Morrison’s Journey in Northwest China in 1910, were also published, and Morrison’s photo collections were eventually taken back to China.


Over the past two decades, no one could avoid talking about Morrison when studying the history of the late Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China, just as everyone knew about this Australian in the Chinese-Western political circle in Peking 100 years ago. The series brought Morrison himself ‘back’ to Peking.


Shen Jiawei is a Sydney-based artist.

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