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Some like it hot (or not)

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Artist Emily Hartley-Skudder has just arrived in Xiamen, South China for a three month artist residency. We asked her how she’s settling in.

Emily Hartley-Skudder, Self portrait in the studio

When did you arrive?

I arrived in the morning of 1 September. My connecting flight from Guangzhou was cancelled and I was stuck there over night. I ended up in a very decorative airport hotel with lots of gold, marble, mirrors and velvet where I could sleep for a few hours. Today is my fifth day in Xiamen.

What was your first impression?

I love the colours and materials that are everywhere. The buildings and footpaths are often completely tiled in splendid pastel colours. The apartment complex that will be my home for the next three months is covered in pink tiles from top to bottom. There is chrome, gold, stainless steel, marble and granite everywhere. The entranceways are glorious. Nothing is restrained; patterns are everywhere. Pastel colours seem to be celebrated rather than dismissed as childish or girly. It's basically everything I love to look at, wear and make art about.

It is also very hot.

What have you been doing so far?

The basics − working out how/where to get food, how to get around, how to communicate, and exploring.

Everything is fascinating to me. Every time I leave my studio/apartment it is a research excursion.

What do you think will be most challenging?

The language barrier will probably be the most challenging when it comes to making connections with people and when I try to get objects fabricated for my project. And honestly (and rather pathetically), the heat is a real challenge.

What are you most looking forward to?

That I am here for a decent amount of time and I get to establish little routines, seeing the same people at my local shops and experience what it is like to actually live here. I am looking forward to seeing what work comes out of this. I'm so excited to use the experience to loosen up, experiment and find amazing objects and materials to work with.

Emily Hartley-Skudder takes found-objects, assembles, photographs, and then translates them into ‘suspiciously pleasant’ paintings. It’s an artistic process that celebrates removal, translation and re-presentation.

Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) is an artist-in-residence programme run by Wellington City Council and the Asia New Zealand Foundation. It has two facets – residency and exchange. WARE supports one residency and one exchange each year: one artist from Asia will visit Wellington, and one Wellington artist will go to either Xiamen or Beijing in China.


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