China

Plastic Palms and a Chinese film set

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I’m discovering and experiencing new things upon revisiting a place familiar for it’s sticky heat and unusual scents and sights.

Out near the Songjiang campus the mysterious world of movie and TV show sets reveal themselves in giant facades of buildings- faux villages, gardens and theatres that have walls made from MDF, hollow to the tap and too temporary to lean on. Even the gardens are plastic. A few people in costume and an old hat stall look like something is being filmed and when everyone gathers at a dumpling stall for early lunch there’s a man wielding a piece of pig skin to make burnt skin prosthetics. Fires burn off debris, dogs hang out in patches of shade, washing hangs in a cobbled street and I can’t quite tell if it’s real or not.

Another spot, 1933, built midst the urban landscape of pre-communist Shanghai, is a concrete abyss with a circular design and reminds me of a Blade Runner-esque futuristic building, or an Escher labyrinth. The coolest thing about this space is the late afternoon sun that strikes only certain angles and spots and you have to circle the space to find them, like running round a giant sundial.

At the Jing’an sculpture park in the city we have to shoot quickly, using the immense honeycomb wall of the Natural History museum as a backdrop, strangers curious and closing in. When we leave there’s a cherry picker up shaking little fruit off a tree into which remind me of these delicious Winter Apples we’ve been eating with most meals.

Each place reveals new exciting backdrops and endless ideas for photography. I love the contrasts being old and new, clean and grungy.  The sun beams down all day through it’s slight diffused veil and after days shooting outside you can feel the warm glow on your cheeks by the time your head hits the pillow.

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