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.

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.