FREE DIGITAL EXHIBITION

Extended to 30th April!

Welcome to our 3D world, a virtual exhibition responding to the historical context and architecture of Two Temple Place.

 

Originally conceived as a live exhibition for Two Temple Place – William Waldorf Astor’s sublime neo-Gothic gem – CAN x TWO TEMPLE PLACE has evolved into an exciting new arts encounter, experienced in a digital space.

Within the dazzling interiors of Two Temple Place, works by these contemporary Chinese artists not only surprise and engage; they ask new questions about the building, and the people who commissioned, crafted and built this extraordinary architectural fantasia in central London.

This exhibition features works from fine artist and singer-songwriter Chloe Wing, augmented reality and architectural artist Donald Shek, composer and creator of a new Instagram opera, Jasmin Kent-Rodgman, and writer and performer Daniel York Loh. All of them have used Two Temple Place as inspiration or challenge, exploring the aesthetic and historic resonances of William Waldorf Astor’s building to explore their practice.

The Chinese community has been growing in the UK since the 1800s, yet it is rare to see anyone of Chinese heritage represented in our prestigious historic houses. Being invited in by Two Temple Place to create new work, grapple with the legacy of Astor, to have a voice and occupy the space, was an irresistible opportunity.

The immersive and interactive exhibition has been created using the Unity platform. Unity is used in many popular games and by architects when creating digital architecture environments that are easy to navigate.

The exhibition needs to be viewed on a laptop or computer using Google Chrome, Opera or Firefox.

Exhibition artists: Chloe Wing 周永森, Donald Shek 石英杰, Jasmin Kent Rodgman 陈茉莉, Daniel York Loh
Curators: Rebecca Hone, Jodie 恩慧 Gilliam
Designer: Christine 挺欢 Urquhart Director & Composer: An-Ting Chang 張安婷
Creative Tech Partner: Ian Gallagher Photographer: Johan Persson; Original building images: Julian Nieman
Erhu musician (Film): Wang Xiao 王潇
Writer & Performer (Film): Daniel York Loh 罗宁勇

Jack Tan’s ‘Hearings’ formed part of the CAN x TWO TEMPLE PLACE exhibition from 20th February 2021 – 21st March 2021. Jack has decided not to take part in the exhibition extension period from 22nd March.

Digital Exhibition Artists

JASMIN KENT RODGMAN

London-born British-Malaysian artist + composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman brings together the contemporary classical, electronics and sound art worlds to create powerful soundscapes and musical identities. A regular collaborator across various art forms including dance, word, film and VR, her music explores otherness, memory and plays with a sense of narrative. Activism also has an important place within her music and wider creative work;

www.jkr-music.com

DONALD SHEK

Donald Shek – Donald studied architecture at Liverpool University and incorporates architectural elements into his artwork. He mixes a variety of mediums that include screenprinting, drawing, and etching which has gradually expanded to include augmented reality. The issues involved in his work is a mixture of questions of cultural origins and the effects of the urban environments on our subconscious.  He creates images using 3D programs and then converts into a 2D image for printing using the silkscreen method. This process reflects our mechanised society where the line is blurred between the digital world and reality.  

www.donaldshek.co.uk

Donald Shek - Artist Statement

For this new work produced for CAN x Two Temple Place, I have reflected upon the history, architecture, decoration, and mythological imagery of the house, as well as exploring Astor’s interest in literature and fiction. The works explore fundamental questions of identity and perception, influenced by the Astors of Two Temple Place and their quest to find acceptance both in America and Britain – a sense of ‘otherness’ that struck a chord with my own experiences as a British Chinese man. The work is presented with the use of language and mythological stories to present patterns in history as well as reflecting the constant quest for meaning and personal identity. Stories and symbolic gestures can unveil ideas much more simply and can potentially provide some way to formulate a level of truth or some common language, thus hopefully developing a deeper understanding or gaining knowledge to help navigate the world we live in.

Donald Shek - Artist Statement

For this new work produced for CAN x Two Temple Place, I have reflected upon the history, architecture, decoration, and mythological imagery of the house, as well as exploring Astor’s interest in literature and fiction. The works explore fundamental questions of identity and perception, influenced by the Astors of Two Temple Place and their quest to find acceptance both in America and Britain – a sense of ‘otherness’ that struck a chord with my own experiences as a British Chinese man. The work is presented with the use of language and mythological stories to present patterns in history as well as reflecting the constant quest for meaning and personal identity. Stories and symbolic gestures can unveil ideas much more simply and can potentially provide some way to formulate a level of truth or some common language, thus hopefully developing a deeper understanding or gaining knowledge to help navigate the world we live in.

JACK TAN

Jack makes work that explores the connection between the social, the legal and art. Using social relations and cultural norms as material, he creates performances, performatives, sculpture, video and participatory projects that highlight the rules — customs, rituals, habits and theories — that guide human behaviour. Prior to becoming an artist, Jack trained as a lawyer and worked in civil litigation as well as in NGOs undertaking human rights case, policy and anti-racist campaigning work.

www.jacktan.net

CHLOE WING

Chloe is a fine artist, light and shadow paper cutting artist and songwriter/performer who makes immersive and atmospheric installations / spaces. For Two Temple Place, her performance, specially crafted paper gown and headpiece draw on themes of gender, social conventions and mental health.

www.chloewing.com

Donald Shek - Artist Statement

For this new work produced for CAN x Two Temple Place, I have reflected upon the history, architecture, decoration, and mythological imagery of the house, as well as exploring Astor’s interest in literature and fiction. The works explore fundamental questions of identity and perception, influenced by the Astors of Two Temple Place and their quest to find acceptance both in America and Britain – a sense of ‘otherness’ that struck a chord with my own experiences as a British Chinese man. The work is presented with the use of language and mythological stories to present patterns in history as well as reflecting the constant quest for meaning and personal identity. Stories and symbolic gestures can unveil ideas much more simply and can potentially provide some way to formulate a level of truth or some common language, thus hopefully developing a deeper understanding or gaining knowledge to help navigate the world we live in.

Chloe Wing - Artist Statement

Whilst we were given a tour by Rebecca Hone of Two Temple Place, of course the grandeur and luxury is what is initially impressive. But what struck me was Astor’s story of how he came to London and being rejected from High Society in New York. That pressure of wealth, status and struggle to prove himself really made sense of what he aimed to achieve. Also the personal passion, joy and vision of 2TP and to externalise such a design is so empowering for myself as an artist to see.

Whilst we were given a tour by Rebecca Hone of Two Temple Place, of course the grandeur and luxury is what is initially impressive. But what struck me was Astor’s story of how he came to London and being rejected from High Society in New York. That pressure of wealth, status and struggle to prove himself really made sense of what he aimed to achieve. Also the personal passion, joy and vision of 2TP and to externalise such a design is so empowering for myself as an artist to see.

I also felt a sadness for what Astor went through and the space has a very atmospheric and magical feel to it as well. I wanted to incorporate all of these thoughts of struggle as well as the passion. Another thing that really struck me was the masculinity of the building, the heavy wood carvings, the maximalism and pomp of it all. I felt there was a lack of a feminine voice and presence.

I had been thinking about making a cut-out dress for 5 years. Around 2015 , an artist friend, Angela Li, told me she had a dream I was wearing a cut out gown. I thought it sounded like a nice concept and had also toyed with the idea very loosely before that. I think her telling me this was always in the back of my mind and when I went to see 2TP it felt right to realise this gown. The period of interiors, the decor and style all just felt right. And thanks to 2TP and CAN for giving me this unique opportunity to see 2TP and make new works like this. When I saw the space I also felt compelled to make something delicate, ethereal, light and ghostly, to almost float in the space. I thought it would be a nice contrast.

I think my response to the building was very magical and when I completed the gown and the light shone through the window through the transparency of the dress it felt again just fitting, magical and also haunting in a good way. I love visiting period properties, so it was a treat for me to see 2TP. I really wanted to capture the beauty, craft and essence of this building. What I make is completely hand crafted and laborious. It takes a long time to make my installations and it is a labour of love for me. I felt this in 2TP that it had a lot of love in the making of it, and I really enjoyed creating this gown, perhaps the most out of all my work so far. It combined a lot of my passions including fashion design, fine art, craft, even music and performance as well! It has become a very holistic and idiosyncratic piece for me to make and I think idiosyncratic is a good way to describe 2TP too.

My works have always been about familiar symbolism in everyday life. It is interesting to see how these emblems are echos of the past, and also echo each other in different spaces whether they are modern or old. I have included in this show works that I have made over the past 5 years that have relationships with many other buildings I have visited such as Blenheim Palace and The National Gallery. It is interesting how these features reflect for example Roman or Victorian times. How the mindset in those days were very different to the ones today, yet they still do exist in an invisible yet significant way. My works are about unravelling what these symbols meant psychologically at that time and how our psyche contains a lot of this history. The notions of what is correct and good for men and women, what is socially acceptable in their behaviour, expression, speech and thinking. One thing I have directly responded to is the Victorian aesthetic of delicacy for women. The idea of pretty ribbons and small floral patterns, which mirrored the attitude that women should be discreet, genteel and quiet. In Paper Gown the patterns can be pleasing and ‘pretty’ yet are also bold, large and busy, perhaps to try and add a more varied female voice in a masculine dominated space.

When I wore Paper Gown in 2TP I really felt the rigidity of having to wear restrictive garments, but I also wondered if women walked in this space much, and if they did perhaps that would be the feminine contribution and features of the building? It made me think again of women being objects to be seen, to adorn spaces, and that objectification being their role in society on a general level.

For myself, I would just hope that the viewer enjoys the space and the atmosphere as much as I have. To soak it all up, the interiors, the inspiration of 2TP and hopefully Paper Gown as well interacting with this beautiful setting.

DANIEL YORK LOH

Daniel York Loh is a mixed-race British East Asian actor, writer, director, filmmaker and musician. As an actor he has appeared at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Donmar Warehouse and The Old Vic as well as in the feature films Rogue Trader, The Beach, The Receptionist and Scarborough. Also an established writer, Daniel’s theatre credits include: The Fu Manchu Complex (Ovalhouse/Moongate), Forgotten 遗忘 (Moongate/New Earth/Arcola/Plymouth Theatre Royal) and Invisible Harmony 无形的和谐 (Papergang/Chinese Arts Now/South Bank Centre). His short films have included writing for Mercutio’s Dreaming: The Killing of a Chinese Actor (also co-director and composer), Dream of Emerald Hill and directing Night Lives, Finding Akira and Hall of Mirrors – the latter of which won Best Drama Short at the 2017 London Independent Film Awards. Daniel is featured in the best-selling essay collection The Good Immigrant, which won the 2016 Books Are My Bag Reader’s Choice award.

Donald Shek - Artist Statement

For this new work produced for CAN x Two Temple Place, I have reflected upon the history, architecture, decoration, and mythological imagery of the house, as well as exploring Astor’s interest in literature and fiction. The works explore fundamental questions of identity and perception, influenced by the Astors of Two Temple Place and their quest to find acceptance both in America and Britain – a sense of ‘otherness’ that struck a chord with my own experiences as a British Chinese man. The work is presented with the use of language and mythological stories to present patterns in history as well as reflecting the constant quest for meaning and personal identity. Stories and symbolic gestures can unveil ideas much more simply and can potentially provide some way to formulate a level of truth or some common language, thus hopefully developing a deeper understanding or gaining knowledge to help navigate the world we live in.

Daniel York Loh - Artist Statement

William Waldorf Astor was part of the fourth generation of one of the great immigrant dynasty success stories.  

But he didn’t feel he fit in America so he emigrated again… to somewhere where he didn’t quite fit. 

The ‘Chinese’ were at one time the biggest migrators on the planet. Blown across the globe by famine, poverty, instability, the need for somewhere to make that elusive better life. 

The Chinese are the only ethnic group to have government legislation exclusion orders placed against them on three separate continents. 

And have we ever quite ‘fit’ in Britain? Our presence in the media and public life would suggest not. 

I’ve always related to, and felt deeply, the Asian migrant experience. I’ve researched it and written about it a lot. I knew it resonated with me.  

I was unprepared for how much the Astor story resonated with me as well though. That quest to belong, to feel respected, to have a place, to feel… loved? 

Can that sense of ‘belonging’ ever be bought or earned by the trappings of success? 

I was taken by Donald Shek’s description of 2 Temple Place as ‘mythological’. It feels epic, wide, beautiful… but intimidatingly so.  

The rooms are beguiling, magical, a constant surprise for the eye. 

But it’s difficult not to imagine a certain loneliness in there at night on one’s own. 

And it’s difficult not to feel ‘small’. 

And isn’t ‘small’ what all migrants sometimes feel? From the poorest of Chinese sailors who jumped ship in the East End in search of a space to thrive to the richest Astors who sought the affirmation of nobility.  

Because we’re always a minority.  

AN-TING

An-Ting Chang is a concert pianist, composer, theatre director and the Artistic Director of CAN. She led CAN Productions with different artistic roles, including Augmented Chinatown 2.0 (an app for AR, music and drama), Lao Can Impression (Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room), Coalesce (King’s Place), Bats and Beats (Soundstate Festival, Shanghai tour), Citizens of Nowhere? (Duddell’s) and LSO Eclectica (LSO St Luke’s). Her background is a unique mix of science and art with a degree in Chemistry from National Taiwan University and a MMus and PhD in performance from the Royal Academy of Music.

An-Ting has performed regularly as a concert pianist at venues such as Southbank Centre, LSO St Luke’s, Newbury Spring Festival, Deal Festival, Cheltenham Town Hall, and the Akademie der Künste Berlin (Academy of Arts).

In 2012, An-Ting founded Concert Theatre, which pioneered a new hybrid genre mixing music, and theatre. Productions such as Kiss of the Earth (UK tour, 2015) and The Tenant (National Portrait Gallery, 2017) were warmly received. She has released her solo piano album ‘Water Image‘ in 2015 and will release the next one ‘Carnival of the Animals’ in March 2021. 

She is leading the CAN X TWO TEMPLE PLACE Digital Exhibition and live performance for CAN Festival 2021.

CHRISTINE URQUHART

Christine Ting – Huan 挺欢 Urquhart is a former Fine Art Painter and Sculptor working in Live Performance as a Set & Costume Designer and as an Art Director / Production Designer for Film. Her heritage is Taiwanese and British mixed and she spent 7 years of her career designing abroad (around Europe, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Australia, Canada) and is currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. She studied Fine Art at Farnham Art College and Cardiff Metropolitan University, then on to Theatre Design at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Her work questions viewpoints and narrative structure through form, the body as a political statement and getting audiences out of black boxes to be witnesses to a different kind of event. Her current focus is on Artist Digital Commissions centred around discovering new forms of storytelling somewhere between Film, Gaming and Exhibition.

She has been Dora Nominated for an Outstanding Costume Design in ‘Iphegenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land)’ with Saga Collectif costuming Indigenous, Settler and Black bodies in a reimagined Greek text and for Outstanding Set Design in Antigone 方 with YPT where she transformed a traditional pros Theatre into an In-The-Round configuration and viscerally placed the audience on the outskirts of a conflict zone. Her most traditional experience is at major repertory company Shaw Festival as a Design Assistant for a full season. She has been the recipient of a Lead By Design bursary project in association with Grid Iron and Design Association The Envelope Room developing her own project ‘The Crazy Locomotive’ – a blend of object manipulation, roleplay, film, virtual reality and sculpture.

Donald Shek - Artist Statement

For this new work produced for CAN x Two Temple Place, I have reflected upon the history, architecture, decoration, and mythological imagery of the house, as well as exploring Astor’s interest in literature and fiction. The works explore fundamental questions of identity and perception, influenced by the Astors of Two Temple Place and their quest to find acceptance both in America and Britain – a sense of ‘otherness’ that struck a chord with my own experiences as a British Chinese man. The work is presented with the use of language and mythological stories to present patterns in history as well as reflecting the constant quest for meaning and personal identity. Stories and symbolic gestures can unveil ideas much more simply and can potentially provide some way to formulate a level of truth or some common language, thus hopefully developing a deeper understanding or gaining knowledge to help navigate the world we live in.

Christine Urquhart - Artist Statement

Gathering spaces. Two Temple Place has a history of being incredibly select with who could walk in and gather inside it’s walls. There was a front presented by the people inside. There’s a strange beauty in its ornate carvings and deep wood tones that both draws you in but still keeps you at arms distance. How can something that stands so strong make space for our stories?

In digital space I wanted to reimagine these walls as a liminal entity and literally break it apart and fragment it on different axes. The images I have used are scans directly from the catalogue – the building itself is trapped in a certain identity, but here it can be liberated alongside the artists joining it in this digital realm – here, the old and new world collide. I was most struck by the ‘scars’ in the building from when it sustained bombing damage and how it was rebuilt to be exactly the same. I’ve reopened those scars, cranked opened the gaps and split it apart to allow the works of the artists to bloom.

CAN x TWO TEMPLE PLACE can from one viewpoint look like utter chaos but from another it slips into a complete and pleasing order. That’s what identity can feel like being mixed race – a chaotic yet orderly navigation – so i wanted to see what it was like to turn the long standing identity of the building on its head. Translucent coloured walls conceal but also allow parts of the space to peek through in contrast to the opaque feeling of the physical building. Different moons and suns glimmer in surprising mirrors dotted around the space, much like colours can dance around in different times of the day through the stunning stained glass. White and warm light contrast between the artworks and the world.

As i Designer i often take a step back and ask questions like – who wrote these stories? Whose viewpoint are we seeing? To give distance gives space, and to give space gives new voices a chance to speak. To gather.

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