Artist brings West­ern, Eastern el­e­ments to­gether in art­work

China Daily European Weekly - - SHENYANG SPECIAL - By CAO YINGYING My­self and I

Sophia Hurst, a painter and art teacher from Lon­don, held a solo ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled Mother/ Creator in Shenyang, cap­i­tal of Liaon­ing prov­ince, in mid-April.

The ex­hi­bi­tion at J Art Gallery in Sof­i­tel Shenyang Lido Ho­tel cen­tered on the theme of moth­er­hood and what it means to be a creator. It is one of more than 20 ex­hi­bi­tions the Bri­tish artist has staged.

A week later, Hurst gave a 45-minute bilin­gual lec­ture on the pur­pose of art at the same venue, with noted artists from the lo­cal cul­tural com­mu­nity join­ing the au­di­ence and dis­cus­sion.

Hurst, born in 1972, has lived in China for more than a decade.

Af­ter she left the United King­dom in 1995, she taught English at Bei­jing Lan­guage and Cul­ture Univer­sity, later mov­ing to Shengyang, her sec­ond home.

In the North­east China city, Hurst started her paint­ing ca­reer and also mar­ried a lo­cal who sup­ports her job. Now the cou­ple have two daugh­ters.

As a Bri­tish artist cre­at­ing in the con­text of Chi­nese cul­ture, she com­bines tech­niques and thoughts from the West and the East in her art­work.

Her paint­ing searches for the mean­ing of life and a reflection of the world, as well as the essence of hu­mans, crit­ics said.

Hurst said she be­lieves that art does not come from artists — as an out­growth of the cre­ation process, “art comes from an ex­ter­nal source”.

She ex­plores a lot of is­sues in her works, in­clud­ing how to main­tain har­mony and unity while pre­serv­ing di­verse per­son­al­i­ties; how to live spir­i­tu­ally in a ma­te­rial world; how to make art up­lift­ing, heal­ing and true; what the pur­pose of pain is; and how peo­ple can un­der­stand them­selves bet­ter through art.

Work­ing with these ques­tions makes Hurst’s works up­lift­ing, chal­leng­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing, crit­ics said.

She usu­ally starts to work with a piece of writ­ing or a pro­vok­ing thought from daily life, and she will sketch that down and try to ex­press it us­ing wa­ter­col­ors, propy­lene or sculp­ture, Hurst told Chi­nese me­dia.

She said she was proud that she sold an art­work to a woman who had suf­fered a grave ac­ci­dent, be­cause the buyer felt the paint­ing ex­pressed the way she had been suf­fer­ing at that par­tic­u­lar time.

The aquarelle named shows the out­line of a hu­man torso, with a big hole punched out right at the cen­ter. A smaller fig­ure, its head slightly tilted to­ward the ground, stands en­tirely in­de­pen­dent, were it not for some thin strings hold­ing it back, the del­i­cate threads turn­ing into res­train­ing chains.

“This is the rea­son I paint: to con­nect with others,” Hurst said.

PHO­TOS BY LIU CHAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Sophia Hurst, an artists from Bri­tain, be­lieves “art comes from an ex­ter­nal source”.

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