San Bao Zhi

Featuring the work Shopping bags with Rangoli designs.
Group Exhibition, First Draft Gallery, Sydney, New South Wales, 2005.

Hand-cut signwriter’s vinyl and readymade plastic mesh bags. Site specific work, dimensions variable.

Shopping bags with Rangoli designs was created for the 2002 Khoj International Artist Residency in Mysore India.

The work was recreated for exhibition in Orientalism at Blindside Gallery in 2005 and subsequently shown within San Bao Zhi at First draft in Sydney and in Recast at Cowwarr Art Space in 2008.

Installation view and detail

Photography by Silversalt Photography.

Artist Statement

This artwork was created during my first visit to India; I was overwhelmed with so many new experiences. Everywhere I looked were vivid colours, tantalizing smells and wonderful handcrafts. The selection of shopping bags as materials for a resulting artwork expressed my desire to touch, see, buy and consume with gusto!

I chose to continue my experiments into Chinese paper-cutting techniques when referencing the local mark making tradition of Rangoli – a pouring of pigment, flour or flowers into intricate patterns on the earth. The plastic mesh bags were hanging in a profusion of vibrant coloured bundles in the market. Their clear strong colour seemed perfect as a ground for my explorations of traditional Rangoli patterns.  Once completed and exhibited at the Khoj International Artists workshop in Mysore, the bags were presented as gifts to other participating artists and dispersed across India and the globe.

I recreated the work in 2005 for exhibition in Australia. This time the adhesive paper Rangoli designs were cut from sign writer’s adhesive vinyl, the original colours carefully matched. Such a use of western industrial material has added another layer to a work that references traditional practices and is infused with an energy which comes from direct experience.

Excerpt from exhibition catalogue essay by Christine Morrow

San Bao Zhi (Three paper packages) brings together a group of artists, Mandy Ridley, Pamela Mei-Leng See and Shan Terry, whose works incorporate the traditional craft of paper-cuts while initiating a broader investigation into the relationship between folk rituals, social practices, consumption and cultural identity.

The exhibition title, appearing as it does in Chinese followed by an English translation, signals the show’s focus on cultural hybridity, in particular, artistic forms that may reflect the exchange of objects, people and ideas between China and Australia and more generally between East and West. To a significant extent, the artists’ intellectual concerns reflect their own cultural and personal experiences. Shan Terry was born and raised in mainland China. She migrated to Australia where she now lives and practices art but has also spent several years living elsewhere in South-East Asia. Pamela Mei-Leng See is an Australian artist whose parents are Malaysians of Chinese ethnic background. Recently she spent time travelling in mainland China. Mandy Ridley is an Australian artist who has spent many years researching culturally-distinct Chinese goods (including paper-cuts) available in Australia as imports; however a recent residency she undertook in India has seen her adapt and extend her concerns to reflect her encounter with Indian folk practices and to articulate her experience of being an Australian artist/traveller/tourist in a foreign culture.

Each artwork in San Bao Zhi (Three paper packages) takes the form of multiple modules installed like ornaments, merchandise or packaging. Mandy Ridley’s work is a mass of multiple brightly-coloured shopping bags applied with geometric circular stencil-cut images in contrasting colours. Pamela Mei-Leng See presents a mass of one thousand lotuses cut and assembled from British World War II occupation currency notes. And Shan Terry presents a grouping of eighty hundred and eighty small paper fish cut from traditional Chinese red money envelopes.

To view the full essay, please visit the following link: 'San Bao Zhi (Three paper packages)', by Christine Morrow.

Process: development & fabrication