a close up image of a watercolour artwork. Dark blue black paint covers the image, with a faint pattern produced by a net curtain across it. A white slash or stripe draws across the square diagonally

Ma Qiusha, Fog Series triptych, 2014. Watercolour on paper (detail) Courtesy the artist.

Artwork of the Month: Ma Qiusha, Fog Series

As part of our ongoing digitisation project, last week we began photographing the works in the Collection to make more of our artwork accessible online. One of the first pieces we recorded during this process was Ma Qiusha’s Fog Series.

At a glance, the series of panels appear monochromatic; a dark background interrupted only by thin white lines. Even in person, any further details are subtle. When captured through photography, however, the intricacies of this work are beautifully illuminated. Created using lace curtains, Ma Qiusha uses these as a stencil to apply dark paint to the surface. The white lines, which at first appear almost like contrails, inscribed into the surface of the work, in fact, are the gaps between the paint, revealing the pale foundation underneath.

These fine details emerge in the digital photographs of the work, exposing the subtle patterns of the lace curtains. The delicate, and familiar domestic patterns are intriguing. With the high resolution of the digital images, I am drawn to zoom in and inspect the details, the way the pattern is preserved in the work’s surface, only to be interrupted by the sharp white gaps of the paper. The harsh white and delicate darks juxtaposing each other.

The ideas behind Ma Qiusha’s work are echoed in these contrasts as she explores the suppressed emotions experienced by many of her generation, as they seek to balance familial duties with a wish for personal freedom.

With thanks to Museums Photography North West.

December 2021