Graeme Kennedy Photography

Studio Updates —

Studio updates.

Posts tagged China
Burning Coal

Living in China, you learn to appreciate blue sky days like this, however as the winter months kick in, and energy demand skyrockets, China's enormous array of coal plants step up a gear, sending pollution levels up too.

Well over half of China's energy needs are still supplied by coal, even though air pollution is a rising concern here, and although Beijing has been sending messages of sustainability out on the world stage, there is an estimated 700 new coal plants in planning, or being built by Chinese companies - with a fifth of those projects outside of China - this is nearly half of all new coal plants that will be built over the next decade.

In the past 5 years that I've lived in Shanghai, the government's effort to clean up the air has literally had a visible impact, but some believe that as the economy slows and China pulls the levers to keep the fire burning, air quality might fall down the list of importance, so perhaps the chimney peaking over the tops of these buildings will, unlike the ancient town it neighbours, not be a relic of history anytime soon.

Graeme Kennedycoal, China, Energy, Deqing
The Jing-Hang Canal
A small local branch of the Jing-Hang Canal as it flows through Deqing, China.

A small local branch of the Jing-Hang Canal as it flows through Deqing, China.

Often when we think of the incredible historical wonders of China, the Great Wall comes to mind; the 21 000 km long northern border defence which started it’s construction as early as the 7th century BC, and still today cuts across China, snaking over countless ridges and mountaintops.

However, a lesser known, but staggeringly impressive feat began happening in 5th century BC, the Jing-Hang Canal, a 1776 km long, series of canals that connect Hangzhou (just south of Shanghai) to Beijing in the north. Featuring lock systems, connecting rivers, and supplying networks of waterways that serve entire cities (pictured above is the Ancient quarter of Deqing city) the waterway system was the lifeline of the country for centuries.

Although the system has been altered, expanded, reduced and changed over the past 2000 years, it is still an active waterway seeing ships moving freight up and down, and even with China’s rapid infrastructure expansion in rail and highways, it’s still possible to sail from Hangzhou, all the way to Beijing.

Maomao Table Artist
Maomao Table Artist

One thing you notice a lot when traveling in China, interestingly, are premium door advertisement. Literally. Fancy doors. Billboards everywhere. This speaks to the trend of premiumisation you can see all over China. From beer, to holidays, to hair salons. 

This is an incredible opportunity, opening doors (pun totally intended) not just for brands, but also artists. 

This week I met Maomao a young successful artist coming from a family of interior designers who took a different path and is now creating fine art in the form of table decorations. With an impressive resume which includes brands like Mercedes Benz, she has done dozens of pieces this year. Her commentary is often a reflection of cultural intersections or our relationship with our environment. This particular piece, done for naked Retreats called 'nest’ was a statement of our carelessness and wasteful consumption. A thoughtful reminder as China's consumption booms of what is at stake.