Nicholas Jose, guest speaker – New Century Garden: Talking About Public Art in Chinatown

Guest speaker Nicholas Jose’s presentation, What is a (Chinese) Garden?, explores the art of gardens in Chinese culture that continues long, rich, highly evolved traditions of philosophy, aesthetics, ethics and everyday practice. A garden is a conceptual as well as a physical space, a constructed environment, a zone of play or meditative transcendence. The experience of the garden through the body, mind and heart of the person who enters it is central to understanding what a garden can be. In Chinese tradition this takes distinctive forms: a space apart, a space within. As these concepts are translated and adapted to a new context, urban, 21st century, Australian, public, they are reinvented by transnational citizens of the present who give new potential to civic space. Art is an agent in this transformation, including the writing of the garden by scholars and imaginative authors, as they create what critic Wang Guanglin, speaking of Brian Castro’s novel The Garden Book, has called ‘the garden of transcultural life’.

Nicholas Jose is a novelist and Professor, Writing and Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney.

New Century Garden: Talking About Public Art in Chinatown was presented at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art on Friday 21 October 2011