Suzhou Museum

I entered the central garden area of the Suzhou Museum and immediately this wonderful architectural space gave me the strong sensation of stopping and taking a deep breath.
Designed by the internationally renowned architect IM Pei, the museum was completed in 2006 and is said to be his last design.
I only got to visit because I pleaded with my guide to let me off the leash while the rest of our group went to the Humble Administrators garden next door to the Museum. I got 45 minutes to look before I had to rejoin my group.
While I seriously considered spending all of my short time at the museum sitting and looking at Pei’s rock garden I dragged myself away and did what would have to be one of the fastest museum ‘crawls’ on record.

Thankfully I had left my camera on the bus so I had to draw to if I wanted to record anything. Here are the two items I drew. Firstly a stone in the Song Pavillion, a reconstruction of a scholars’ room. It came mounted on its own completely made to measure stand.
In the Neolithic section a sand cast ‘tripod’ ceramic pot which had a wonderful surface texture and a compelling shape.
Finally I returned to the garden and spent my remaing 10 minutes drawing part of the rock garden.
Not surprisingly all the colour on these drawings was added after I returned to the hotel.
I would have loved to spend more time here, but at least I got there in the end. If you ever get the chance to visit please go.

Wuzhen water town

Today (23October)we spent a lot of time on the road. The driving was divided in two by spending several hours in Wuzhen, a small gem of a town, albeit stuffed full of tourists. The ‘town’ consists of several twisting narrow streets lined with old wooden houses either side of a section of canal. I took a camera battery’s worth of architectural details, wooden doorways and canal views. After lunch we had some free time so I sketched the canal with one of the stone bridges that cross it.

Woke up it was a Suzhou morning

One thing good about waking up early while traveling is that I get to draw/paint something with a bit more detail. Across the road from our hotel are, quite literally, hundreds of 5 storey apartment blocks for local residents. I wasn’t particularly inspired by the sight. Then I looked just across the road at the shops and what remains of the previous urban infrastructure. It was a pond of blue roofs, chalky cerulean against waves of white walls and slate grey .


Shanghai and Suzhou

We’ve moved just up the road from Shanghai to the ‘small’ city of Suzhou (1 million people). Before we left I found a spot on the corner near our hotel at the intersection of Yan’an and Ruijin roads, where the Yan’an elevated roadway passes overhead.


Behind me was a small park, which are surprisingly quite common in the city. A cluster of large cycads caught my attention. I added the watercolour later.


We only have one day in Suzhou. A  boat trip on the Grand Canal  was followed by a visit to the Master of Nets garden, which was overrun by horticultural students, drawing plans of the gardens and making sktches of the pavilions. I felt like shaking some of them because rather than draw from what was in front of their eyes they were taking a photo then drawing from that!
Anyway here are some extremely quick sketches which I did from the boat.


Last stop of the day for most of the group was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, perhaps the most famous in China. However I arranged with our guide to go instead to the Suzhou Museum, designed by I M Pei, whose family comes from this city. But that story will have to wait for another wifi connection.