I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
Published October 19th 2014
The former residence of one of China's best loved artists
Lao Huang, presiding over his former home
A short walk from the tourist chaos that is West Lake's north shore, with its burger chains, gift shops and legions of heavy-duty tourist coaches, is the altogether more tranquil area of Guapai Hill.
The hill and its surrounding valleys are criss-crossed with rambling paths and provide a relaxing antidote to the more tourist-heavy areas of Hangzhou's popular West Lake region. It's in this oasis of calm that you will find the former home of famous Chinese artist Huang Bin Hong, who lived from 1865 to 1955.
Huang Bin Hong was amongst the last of the great Chinese literati painters and has become synonymous with this part of China, despite producing much of his work several hundred miles northwest in Anhui province. As a prominent literati painter, Huang was adept at the traditional inkwash technique that flourished in China, Japan and Korea from the medieval period onwards.
The venerable artist finally settled in Hangzhou to live out the final years of an impressively long 90-year life. A selection of his work can be found adorning the walls of his former home, which has been preserved in the manner that the old painter would have been familiar with back in the mid 20th century.
But maybe the most striking part of this restored old building is its captivating garden, complete with a statue of the man himself, still presiding over his flowers in the valley that he loved to paint.
The house is open everyday between 9am and 5pm and his free to enter. It's the perfect place to escape from the throngs of tourists that are associated with such a popular Chinese tourist destination.