Zhihui Zhang (1993, CN) 

currently lives and works in London. 

Now studying MFA Fine art at University Arts London.

External speaker at Fine Art's Emerging Artist week at University for the Creative Arts Canterbury

I was accepted to present and speak about a selection of my imagery works and my experience studying at Wimbledon at this event organized by Jessica Voorsanger as part of the Fine Art's Emerging Artist week. Our talk team comprised two MA painting students from the Royal College of Arts and four MFA Fine Art students from my course.

It was an excellent opportunity to both develop my presentation skills and get over my nervousness. I also tried a slightly different way of showing my works: instead of making a PPT, I  shared my laptop's screen and let the browser of my website and the folders of my works pop up when I was talking. I also brought some of my portable interactive works and let the audience pass my works round for perusal. I was looking forward to the response of these fresh audiences for my work. When a student told me that she had never seen works like mine before by the end of the lecture, it was more encouraging to me than "interesting" or “fabulous".

 

And after lunch, we all did informal tutorials with UCA BA Fine Art students. The tutorial slots were voluntarily enrolled by students, and I was pleasantly chosen by 4 students from different grades of undergraduate. I haven't had imagined before that I could provide tutorial opportunities for art students, but I was very excited to see their sketchbook and referred artists and artworks to them.

I was able to make useful contacts and friends with whom I hope to be able to share skills and ideas in the future.

 

Key Skills: 

  • Creative strategies of presentation (rather than normal PPT)

  • Maintain cohesion moment with the audience, make eye contact during the presentation

  • ​Learn from feedbacks

  • Hold a more open mind and macro perspective when having dialogues with art peers who are not in the similiar field, or even from a distance

Professional Showcase

 

External speaker at Fine Art's Emerging Artist week at University for the Creative Arts Canterbury

Exhibitor at “Emergency Art” Exhibition at Platform Southwark, London

Deputy Treasurer of the finance team at WCA Year 2 Group Show, “Immurement” Crypt Gallery, St Pancras New Church, London. 

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Shortlisted Artist and exhibitor at Xhibit2019 at Koppel Project Central Gallery, London

Co-curator at SPARKS Exhibition at Legge Studios, Ladywell

Award-winning artist at Wanying Young Dreams2019 - Discover Young Talent 

Remote exhibitor at “BOX”, Zap Beijing and “Park”, Keyi Gallery, China

Interviewee and contributor on special column ‘Overseas Art Students Under the Pandemic’ from CAFA ART INFO

​Future plan

 

Exhibitor at “Emergency Art” Exhibition at Platform Southwark, London

I was one of several WCA MFA Fine Art students who participated in this off-campus collective Fine Art Exhibition at Platform Southwark, London, which came as a response of unified awareness of certain problematic fields of modern life, which bring Society to turbulence and degradation.

 

When I saw Southwark's exhibition space, I became interested in the "unscientific," "irrational," and "unattractive" pillars at the center of the space, and I immediately decided to show my new work there.

If the gallery space is a white cube, then Southwark's column at the center of the space seems to be a blemish on the white cube or a part that would normally be overlooked, but it also makes the column the most special area of the exhibition space.

I decided to use the video of cat's tail movement that I collected before and present the imagery through the use of screen-mounted projection, so as to hint the function of the bottom of this column that is recognized in daily life, and at the same time to achieve an accurate combination of the artwork and the specific space. 

 

Due to the limited manpower on the installation and de-installation days, and the fact that only I could complete the installation and operation of my equipment, I assisted the curator with several participating artists to load and unload the works. After completing the installation of my equipment, I helped the curator and other artists to debug and install the equipment, clean up space, and check the details of the promotional materials before the private view started. During the exhibition, I rethought patiently about how to record my projection works with DSLR. At the same time, when my work encountered a problem when it was presented at the scene, and when I arranged the wires of my work, my colleagues came to help me, which made me feel that everyone could participate and support each other. I felt that I was more involved in the exhibition, and through this opportunity to produce new works in two days, I regained some of my creative efficiency after the Unit 2 assessment.

 

 

Key Skills: 

  • Strategies for recording the works

  • Collaborating as a team, help each other to be more engaged in the event/exhibition

  • Stimulate creativity by keeping  busy and motivated

 
  • Deputy Treasurer of the finance team at WCA Year 2 Group Show, “Immurement” Crypt Gallery, St Pancras New Church, London.  

  • Immurement is a collaborative exhibition at the Crypt Gallery featuring 38 multidisciplinary artworks, including my site-specific mapping projection work, playing guitar by moving the mouse(2019). Having been part of the curation team before, this time I decided to learn how to deal with the budget, which is unfamiliar to me but important for an exhibition.

  • In addition, to fulfill my site-responsive mapping experiment, Hamish and I were in charge and running the bank account. My role is Deputy Treasurer of the finance team, collaborating with Hamish to make sure the budget during the show is under control. We worked with each team that needed money and figured out how much we needed to spend on each section of the show (printing, private view, van rental). Thanks to Hamish, his careful and accurate logic made the task of bringing everything together a lot easier. I tried my best to inform our artists to make their payment for the Crypt subscriptions as soon as possible to set up our budget plan early and every time Hamish would kindly ask for my suggestions to make our budget statement more clear to artists. Hamish always finds good points. After he mentioned card payment and cash payment, we decided to use his SumUp machine to inspire more people to make a donation even if they don’t have cash. I also helped the curation team to sell drinks by keep activating the credit card machine.

  • In terms of my mapping projection work, I was assigned a 4.7m long tunnel. Due to the last experience of using two short-throw projectors, I decided to get better short-throw projectors with higher resolution and less pixelation from the Royal College of Arts with the help of my friend who is studying there. As there is always a lot of equipment, ties, and wires in my recent installation works, I carefully considered how to arrange the equipment and cables in a safe and simple way and I have improved a lot after I set up several shows.

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  • Key Skills:

  • Finance: gathering the record of income and cost items.

  • Collaborating with other teams: Private View Drinks Bar with the payment machine and the donation box.

  • Equipment management: taking care of various equipment of multi-screens project during the  de- and installation

 

Key Skills:

  • Comprehensive communication with exhibition coordinator and manager of the gallery

  • Being brave to ask for more reasonable help

  • Trouble-shoot during setting up

  • Reinstallation the same works

  • Maintenance during the exhibition

  • Arrangement of cables, wires

  • Detailed setup description for invigilators 

Exhibitor at Xhibit2019 at

Koppel Project Central Gallery, London

In April last year, I was very honored to be included in the Xhibit2019 exhibition, which was a UAL's annual exhibition run by Arts SU  featuring 27 artists from across all of UAL’s six colleges that unleash the next generation of creative talent across UAL.

In the application stage, as my installation works contained many components and it was very difficult to represent them completely, I began to think about how to present my works' appearance and logic to

the audience/judges who were

not on the scene.

Xhibit2019 hosted viewing days in the run-up to the deadline for submissions in every college which means members of the panel can see the actual artwork first hand which can not be fairly represented by only one image. I booked a slot and set up my installation in my studio on the viewing day. After visiting my studio space, one of the panel Annie-Marie Akussah, together with the exhibitions coordinator Sophie Risner gave me suggestions on how to better record my work for my application. Therefore, I decided to take a tour of video with my camera, following one of the possible tour routes to show each part of my installation one by one, and also attached a picture of the overall installation view.

Because my installation needs several projectors, in the case of the CLS loan limit, my course leader Edwina, our exhibition coordinator Sophie, technicians from moving image workshop Jack and Ursula supported me a lot to collect all the equipment that I need. In order to prevent the super8 film from burning out due to the stuck and frequent repetition, Jack suggested using the time socket to carry out the interval from 15 minutes. Although I still repaired the film twice during the exhibition, the phenomenon of film burning out has been greatly improved, which also made me reconsider the necessity of choosing a super8 film.

 

Co-curator at SPARKS Exhibition at Legge Studios, Ladywell, Legge Studios, Ladywell

'SPARKS'  was the first eternal exhibition organized by 15  fellow artists from the Wimbledon 2018/19 MFA course held at the Legge Studios in Ladywell in February 2019.

Liliana was the initiator of this show and she wrote the proposal to obtain Arts SU funding, which made this project happen. In preparation, we split up into specific teams of administration, finance, design for posters and handouts, promotion, curation, installation, transportation, invigilation, and the workshop programs for the community. And we held meetings to discuss details every week.

 

I was one of the curators(Helen, Constanza, and me, we’re the curation team). As a team, firstly, we tried our best to get more accurate measurements for our artists by visiting the space. Then Constanza and I designed the specific forms which contained questions for the artists asking them to give a general overview of what their work was about, specifying as well as an image of work or plan and how they would like it installed. And we also made a lighting situation form and workshop planning form to calculate all the equipment that we needed and send them to Legge Studios managers. Then, we made a list of arrangements depends on the plan and artist’s projects to try to create a continuous flow in this space. We had to communicate with the artists our concerns and made some changes to compromise with space as we had some issues with the sizes of some of the proposed artworks during the installation day. Once all the artworks were in the space we had to arrange more especially which artworks worked were in relation to space and how different ideas interlink and feed into each other.

Working with these 15 artists have been an excellent opportunity to develop professional teamwork skills and a unique opportunity to explore the possibility of special display space. I think the two rooms with lots of machinery and upstairs room are very unique and we did meet a meaningful challenge about how to negotiate or play with this limited space. In this process, I realized that there were many important parts which decided if an exhibition could be done successfully which was not only about which artwork I would do or which place I chose to put my pieces but the importance of communication, compromise and basic respect between collaborating parties whom each may come from different backgrounds and points of view, as well as considering the different ways that could help present a show (and the works and artists within it) in the best possible light.

Overall, I believe we worked effectively as a team, and I was grateful that the process remained pleasant. And we got lots of positive comments and it was really sweet that our tutor Edwina and many students from the second year came to support us!

 

Key Skills:

  • ​Co-curating with peers

  • Making the proposal form 

  • Adjusting the way of curation for specific sites

  • Being patient and calm to deal with trouble and changes

  • Being brave to speak out own opinions

 

Award-winning artist at Wanying Young Dreams2019 - Discover Young Talent 

 

Wanying Young Dreams, a promotion platform for young artists, has recorded the exploration and practice tracks of this generation of young artists in the field of contemporary art. While paying attention to the present, they are also exploring and imagining the future. 

 

I want to bring my recent works to China for more feedback and resonance, so I participated in this exhibition. I communicated with the main manager to decide my space and all my needs for the equipment remotely before I went back to China. And I bought the specific projectors and necessary accessories online and posted them directly to the gallery.

 

Different from the previous Xhibit2019, Wanying Art Space is composed of many connected small rooms. The curatorial team of Wanying located my work in a semi-enclosed space which is dark and has a small window. According to the current space, I restructure the relationship between the work of each component. Because of my previous experience in setting up exhibitions, I was more skilled in arranging wires and layouts of equipment and cooperated with electricians to lead out power wires in the most reasonable and simple way. I realized that my arrangement for the exhibition became more independent.

I am very honored to have won the best creativity award and a bonus. After the opening ceremony and award ceremony, I got acquainted with some gallery managers and peers and I also met my admirable undergraduate tutor, we discussed a lot each other’s work and exchanged ideas, which further encouraged me to continue to create more, think, and practice sincerely.

 

Key Skills:

  • Being flexible to negotiate remotely or face to face with the exhibition team

  • Reinstallation the same works in a different space

  • Arrangement of electric circuit

  • Keeping in touch with previous contacts and making new contacts during the exhibition

 

Opportunities in hometown China

 

While studying overseas, I also keep in touch with my contacts in China and also pay attention to some opportunities in China.

 

Both the ‘BOX’ exhibition and the ‘Is there a park ahead?’ exhibition were invited by my friends to participate. When the physical works faced geographical restrictions. How an artist balances whether to go back to China to participate in an exhibition or focus on the study schedule is an inevitable problem.

 

The best case is that when money and time allow, installing work by my self and attend the private view can also meet more possible contacts and receive feedback from different viewers. If not, I try to choose works that can be set up slightly easier by others, make a detailed description, and keep in touch remotely all the time with the exhibition team, so that the works can reproduce the original appearance as much as possible (although I have tried several times, the results were not so satisfying).

Key Skills:

  • Being flexible to negotiate remotely or face to face with the exhibition team

  • Balancing the budget, the time, and the personal study/work schedule.

  • A detailed description and a clear proposal

  • Be visible to the art field: ​Keep in touch with comfortable contacts

 

Interviewee and contributor on special column ‘Overseas Art Students Under the Pandemic’ from CAFA ART INFO

During the COVID-19 special period, CAFA ART INFO hopes to share real situations and opinions from students from overseas art schools about what is the status of the pandemic situation in the country they are staying and how to solve the problems such as school suspension, graduation work as well as the dormitory closure.

I attended this interview and share my opinions and some recent practice with them.

 

Future Plan

The experience of going abroad brought me multiple perspectives. The geographical location switch and the changes in the humanistic background can stimulate me to constantly refresh my perspective and look at things. The most comfortable and inspiring way for me is to travel around places that have not been visited and continue my “street walk”. The context of the crossover obtained by tossing and turning in different cities provides me with extensive and "mix cultural support" in everyday materials. Walking around the street, each city has its own unique small details. When I am attracted or even "narcotic" by a certain phenomenon or feeling in front of me, I need to immediately switch to another state, which keeps me away from self-satisfaction.

Extra short-term Plan

After graduation, I will find opportunities to participate in some exhibitions in London during the visa validity period, which could let me retranslate my recent practice through the trial-and-error process in specific sites or in the gallery space. At the same time, I will use my free time after graduation to start researching some interesting technologies and software related to visualization. (for example Kinect and Cinema 4D, and web development)

Short-term Plan

After my visa is expired, I will first go back to China to step into the new stage. As I have a good understanding of Beijing’s art ecology, I would like to spend three months to half a year to explore some of the contemporary art ecologies in Shanghai. Ideally, I would like to apply for a residency project. Of course, I need to balance my “guerrilla” mode of creating between the detailed long-term resident plan required to be submitted, and how to use the locality or human factors to carry out the resident plan. After two years of more in-depth study and research, I think I can be a part-time teacher in a portfolio counseling agency and share some of my experiences with students who want to expand their horizons abroad.  In the meantime, the part-time job alleviates the pressure of renting houses and daily expenses in Shanghai and can reserve some free time for me to explore Shanghai.

Medium-term Plan

At the same time, I also want to keep on my “street walk” routine in other corners of the world. Earlier this year I applied to The École Nationale supérieure des beaux-arts(ENSBA) in Paris and the oral interview will take place at the beginning of July. I’ started to become interested in the city atmosphere of Paris when I was an exchange student during my BA studies. At the same time, I also applied for the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Due to setbacks incurred by the Corona crisis, the next jury rounds will be postponed until later in the year. As another major art center in New York, the United States has always stimulated my curiosity.  I will look for projects to obtain opportunities to explore this city in the near future. If it goes well, I will use these opportunities to continue to collect creative inspiration in some cities that I have not visited before in the next two or three years.

Long-term Plan

I keep looking for exhibition opportunities, sharing my art practice in a timely manner. While studying abroad, I still participated in many art projects in China. The experience of being a remote exhibitor gives me more opportunities to have detailed communication with the exhibition team and keep in touch with my contacts. By actively participating in art projects and collaborating with more like-minded people, I will keep my practice fresh and visible, and continue to build new contacts by sharing my practices in different places.

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