The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy

The Story of the Stone: Found Calligraphy

The experimental exhibition curated by Dr Panpan Yang is currently on display at SOAS Brunei Gallery’s Japanese roof garden until 23 September, 2023.The exhibition presents a set of stones – whose textures strikingly resemble the 26 letters of the English alphabet – all found in nature, arranged, and re-arranged by artists Qu Leilei and Caroline Deane. Together they articulate this line:

‘Unfit to mend the sky’ 無才可去補蒼天

This line is borrowed and translated from a Buddhist verse that appears in the first chapter of The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber). It is said that when the goddess Nü Wa melted down stones to mend the sky, she made 36,501 blocks of stones. She used only 36,500 of these. The remaining block of stone, alone rejected, lamented day and night in distress and shame. Jia Baoyu, the male protagonist of the novel, was born with a piece of luminescent jade in his mouth; it was the rejected stone. After generations, the stone had returned to its huge shape, and there was an inscription discernible on it: an account of the stone being rejected, its transformation, its descent into the world of mortals, and all its joys and sorrows. The above-mentioned Buddhist verse was inscribed on the stone’s back.

Located in the heart of central London, Brunei Gallery’s Japanese roof garden is a space of contemplation, meditation and transcendence. It is in this space that the stones took spiritual flight. For the very first time, the stones tell us a story of the stone.

Panpan Yang <>

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