As I looked through Tower of the Winds I became rather emotional. The surprise began at the launch in St Lukes in the ROQ . An impressive roll over of images on a huge screen was the backdrop to the speech by the former Vice Chancellor Sir John Hood. Interspersed were images of features about the artist. Guess my surprise when I realised that three of them were by me! Once home and looking through this beautiful book, I choked when I saw that beneath the acknowledgement to the university and the former Head Librarian at the Bodleain, Richard Ovenden , the warmest of tributes was to me.
‘Sylvia Vetta, a prolific writer and special friend, has voluntarily promoted the project through interviews, publicationsand organising events from its beginning. Her generous contribution to the project is immeasurable.’ How wonderful is that!
Tower of the Winds is a stunning record of He Weimin’s ( The correct Chinese way ) 6 years of work as Oxford University artist in residence.
I first met Weimin He at the Ashmolean. As Christiansen fellow he curated Qu Leilei’s Everyone’s Life is an Epic the show that blew my mind and led me to write Brushstrokes in Time to celebrate the ‘lost ‘history of the Stars artists. Weimin’s own history? Born in Manchuria he came to Oxford via a ‘troubled’ Belfast where he studied for his PhD! He told me that he arrived in Oxford speaking English with a rich mixture of accents – Chinese and Northern Irish! He became the artist in residence at the rebuild of the Ashmolean and then of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. As part of the Art/Poet project I was honoured to have a poem of mine on a hoarding near Walton Street for 4 years. My poem was inspired by Weimin. His work graces the covers of Oxford Castaways and Poems in an Exhibition . Work by the artist is in museums all over the world and now the British Museum has joined them. I love his sketches! This recent one of a koro player was made at my castaway Dai Richards’ fundraiser for Asylum Welcome.
Here is more of his story..Weimin Castaway
In the background to this picture from the launch of Oxford Castaways is the unforgettably kind Roger Bannister talking to historian Helen Rappaport.
Also on the screen at the launch – mypoem about Weimin which was on the hoarding at the ROQ for 4 years.