Foundation Course in Traditional Eastern & Western Arts in Suzhou, China

Student work exploring geometry and the Order of Nature

We are pleased to welcome the second cohort of students onto the Foundation Course in Traditional Eastern and Western Arts at the School’s Centre in Suzhou, China.

The course is designed to offer students a unique education experience bringing together the philosophy and practice of traditional Chinese, European and Islamic arts. The course is taught by international masters from the School alongside Chinese masters who have reached the highest levels of recognition in art forms such as Calligraphy, Landscape Painting and Garden Design.

The first module teaches students the universal language of traditional arts through the study of Geometry. They analyse and draw patterns and motifs from Suzhou’s gardens and textiles, and from monuments and heritage sites of the Forbidden City in Beijing. They learn to compose beautiful relationships and harmonious proportions through the language of symmetry found Nature. Students then explore the patterns drawn through different colour harmonies to complete a set of watercolour paintings. This module allows students to reconnect with their own tradition while forging new links with other traditions.

The second module teaches about the alchemical philosophy that underlies the making of natural pigments from earth, minerals and plants. Students make their own colours from organic matter such as malachite, azurite, cochineal beetles, madder roots and chicken bones, and then use them in different media. They practice techniques of egg tempera and oil, from the application of verdaccio as a base to the final touches of highlights. They finally produce their own paintings inspired by famous Renaissance images in both medium, understanding the ancient and cross cultural history of each.

Full-time and part-students joined the course this year from various art backgrounds and expertise levels. This course is suited to young art students who seek to prepare a portfolio of work to apply to further education in China or abroad. The course is also suited to architects, designers and experienced artists who wish to broader their skills in their own field and gain a fresh view to the language of beauty through design, tradition and practical skill accompanied by a deep philosophical approach.

Each module is also offered as a short course.