2011 Events

2011 Events

Flamboyant Mr Chinnery (1774-1852)
An English Artist in India and ChinaThursday

Asia House – Thursday, 24 November

Exclusive guided tour by Dr Patrick Conner, curator of exhibition of paintings of China and lecture: China before Chinnery by Dr Frances Wood

Venue: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London WC1 7LP
Time: Convene at Asia House at 5.45 pm, Thursday 24th Nov. Guided tour of exhibition commences at 6 pm. Lecture begins at 6.45 pm
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

George Chinnery is one of the most neglected British artists in his native country. Whilst there have been substantial exhibitions of his work in Lisbon (1995), Tokyo (1996), Hong Kong (2005) and recently in Macau (2010), there has been no public exhibition in Britain since the Arts Council show in 1957, and prior to that a retrospective at the Tate in 1932. This is the first loan exhibition of Chinnery’s work in Britain for over 50 years.

Chinnery spent the last fifty years of his life in India and on the China coast, where he died and lies buried, and almost all his best work was done in the East. In Calcutta, Canton and Macau he became something of an exotic creature himself – exuberant, droll, unpredictable, a man who relished his status as the oldest of old hands on the China coast.

At his best Chinnery was a splendid artist. For a living he painted portraits of swaggering lieutenants, hoary governors and their beribboned wives, American sea-captains, and Chinese and Parsi merchants.He immersed himself in these Asian cultures and his drawings and watercolours of local people and their daily activities are regarded by many as his most compelling work: crowded market scenes, fishermen landing on the beach, blacksmiths working at their bellows, gamblers playing in the street, boat-people making makeshift shelters, junks at anchor on a calm evening.

The exhibition comprises some 100 works showing Chinnery’s range, from oils and watercolours to landscapes and portraits – with a special emphasis on his vivid and deceptively simple watercolours, and his fluent drawings of the people going about their everyday lives.

China before Chinnery – Lecture by Dr Frances Wood

Chinnery was the first serious British artist to live and work in China. Dr Wood will explore earlier depictions of China including illustrations produced in Europe from books written by 17th century Jesuits, sketches by William Alexander, a brilliant young artist attached to the British Embassy to China(1792-4), and 19th century ‘export paintings’produced in Canton for East India Company men.

Dr Frances Wood is Head of the Chinese Section at the British Library and author of numerous successful books on China including The Forbidden City, The First Emperor of China, China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors and The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World’s Earliest Dated Printed Book.


Wednesday, 7th December 2011 at New Loon Fung Restaurant


This is always a popular event since it provides food for thought as well as food for the stomach. It should prove to be a convivial evening so we hope you will find time to join us! In previous years, this restaurant has always provided us with a sumptuous Cantonese meal.

This year’s debate is based on the views of Prof Amy Chua in her recent book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, which advocates pushing children to achieve excellence.


A film about you and made by you – BBC nationwide project

Date: 10.30am-2.30pm, Sunday 6th November, 2011
Venue: Room B104, Brunei Gallery, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
(Light refreshments will be served.)


On Saturday 12th November 2011, the BBC is inviting people around Britain to take part in an historic film project called BRITAIN IN A DAY and help build a self-portrait of the nation. The idea is inspired by Life in a Day, Ridley Scott’s highly acclaimed documentary featuring stories from all corners of the world.

For BRITAIN IN A DAY, participants are being asked to film stories about themselves using simple cameras or mobile phones and to upload them on YouTube. A selection of the best stories will be edited by Scott Free Productions into a feature-length documentary to be screened in cinemas and on BBC Two in Spring 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Free workshops are being run by Rosa Productions around the country to encourage people to take part. Led by a professional TV trainer, they will:

  • Provide information on the project;
  • Discuss story ideas and story-telling methods;
  • Give tips on basic camera technique.

To reflect the diversity of British society today, the BBC want members of the Chinese community to be involved, to make personal films about life, identity, community, work, leisure, etc. A special workshop has been organised in London by The Meridian Society for anyone of Chinese origin.

Individuals and groups of all ages and all walks of life are welcome to take part and no prior knowledge of filming is required. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a momentous event and let viewers share your thoughts and experiences.

If you wish to attend this workshop, please email us at themeridiansociety@gmail.com Numbers are limited and places are strictly on a first come, first served basis. So please make sure you book immediately.

For further information on the project, please go to:


Talk and demonstration on Chinese martial arts by Master Desheng Li

Monday, 17 October, 7-9 pm

Room B104, Brunel Gallery, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Entry: TMS and SOAS CSSA Members free, non-members £5 donationli

Register now: themeridiansociety@gmail.com

Master Desheng Li has been practising Chinese martial arts since he was eight years old, being brought up in a family with a strong tradition of practising martial arts. Apart from developing his own family style to a more sophisticated style called Nan Hai Style (South Sea Style),he has also learned various styles of martial arts, including Wing Chun, Choi Li Fat, Hong Style, Mantis, etc. In 1971, he established his own martial arts school in Hong Kong 1971 when he was 26 years of age. He then established his second martial arts school in Belgium in 1980 where he has many students. He has studied widely Chinese classical philosophy which has enabled him to practise and teach martial arts beyond the physical level. During the talk, Master Li will discuss the philosophy of martial arts, share his insight and answer questions from the audience. He will also give a demonstration on martial arts and self-defence.

Day trip to Herons Bonsai in Newchapel, Surrey
Sunday 4th September 2011p

This is a seven and half acre nursery owned by Peter Chan who is a multiple gold medallist at the Chelsea Flower Show. He has kindly agreed to open the New Pavilion exclusively to The Meridian Society on this day to assist our fundraising efforts, and has also agreed to give a talk and demonstration. We have arranged a programme of events that should appeal to all, n
ot only to gardeners or lovers of bonsai. This should prove to be an enjoyable excursion and day out for all the family. We hope you will come and join us.



Dr Kerry Brown will be giving a talk on grassroots democracy, local elections and popular accountability in China today.

Date: Friday 1st July 2011
Speaker: Dr Kerry BrownTime: 6:30pm-8pm
Venue: Room V122, Vernon Square, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Vernon Square Campus, Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW
Click here for Google Map Direction
(Please note: venue is at branch campus, not the main campus at Russell Square)
Transport: The nearest tube station is King’s Cross
Ticket: Meridian Society & SACU Members: free, non-members £5 donation, pay at door

Dr Kerry Brown is Head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House.

Previous publications include: Friends and Enemies: The Past, Present and Future in China (2009).
Struggling Giant: China in the 21st Century (2007).

He leads the Europe China Research and Advise Network (ECRAN), a 3-year project started in January, 2011.

Kerry is Research Associate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS.

He was previously in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, working in the China section in London, and as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, 2000 to 2003.

Kerry studied at Leeds University, Cambridge University, SOAS and in Inner Mongolia.

This Lecture is a joint events hosted by SOAS Chinese Scolar and Student Society (CSSA) and The Meridian Society.



Time: Wednesday 29th June 2011 at 6.00 p.m. Members are requested to assemble at 5.50 p.m.
Assembling point: Entrance foyer of The Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, London W.C.1.

Chinese from Bengal Oral History Project 孟加拉华人的口述历史

Date: Sunday, 17th, April 2011
Venue: Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, Canary Wharf, London E14 4AL.
Transport: By DLR: West India Quay. By DLR: West India Quay. By Bus: D3, D7, D8, 277, N50, D6, 15, 115, 135.
Cost: Entry is free, but seats are limited. so please ensure you book early as places will be given out on a first come, first served basis. You will receive confirmation of your booking.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project focuses on the Chinese from West Bengal. This group of people originated from southern China and had travelled to India to find work as carpenters and shoe-makers. By the turn of the 20th century, they had built up a sizeable community in Calcutta, capital of the British Raj, with their own schools and clinics, shops and restaurants. Chinatown became a flourishing centre and could have expanded several times over. However, as tensions grew between China and India over the delineation of the border in the 1960s, many were forced to leave. A small minority came to London. Their arrival proved timely, as post-war Britain needed skilled personnel to boost its economy and the Chinese from India were able to put their English language and British qualifications to good use.

The oral histories, both humourous and poignant, have been compiled into a DVD which will be distributed to schools, libraries and Chinese community centres and will also be available on The Meridian Society’s website as a free online resource. Our aim is to introduce an aspect of the Chinese diaspora to the wider British public, as well as to educate our own younger British Chinese generations about their historical roots.


11:00 Registration and visit exhibition
11:30 Welcome speeches and Introduction to the project
11:45 DVD excerpt and demonstration of how to access material on website
12:00 Performance by True Heart Theatre
12:45 Presentations of certificates and thanks
13:00 Lunch
14:00 End of reception; exhibition open to the general public


The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World’s Earliest Dated Printed Book by Dr Frances Wood
金剛般若波羅蜜多經, 世界上最早的印刷書

Date: Tuesday, 8th March, 2011
Venue: Vernon Square, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW (Please note: venue is at branch campus, not main campus) Map
Transport: The nearest tube station is King’s Cross
Time: 6.30 pm – pre-talk tea (in Room V201), 7– 8 pm talk (in Room V211)
Cost: Meridian Society members: free; non-members’ donation: £5, pay at door

Please book in advance.

Dr Frances Wood, head of the Chinese collection at the British Library, will talk about the subject of her latest book, The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World’s Earliest Dated Printed Book.



‘The Diamond Sutra’ is the world’s earliest, dated, printed book. It was produced in AD 868, some 600 years before Gutenberg’s movable type printing in Europe. Discovered in 1907 at the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas near Dunhuang on the edge of the Gobi desert, it was brought back to London by Sir Aurel Stein in 1909. Frances Wood describes for the first time the story of its production, meaning, discovery and significance as well as recent conservation work.


Dr Frances Wood is the author of many books on China and a frequent visitor to China. She studied Chinese at Newnham College Cambridge in the late 1960s. After graduating, she spent a year studying in Beijing in the mid-70s, where she collected material for her PhD thesis on the construction and architecture of a traditional Chinese courtyard house in Peking University. Back in London, she worked as a librarian in the Chinese section of the SOAS library, before going to work in the British Library, where she is Curator of the Chinese Collection.

Her main publications include The Blue Guide to China (1990, revised 2002) Did Marco Polo go to China? (1996), No Dogs and Not Many Chinese: Treaty Port life in China 1843-1943 (1998), The Silk Road (2002),The First Emperor of China (2007), The Lure of China (2009) and (with Mark Barnard) The Diamond Sutra: the story of the world’s earliest dated printed book (2010).

Frances has participated in the radio programme ‘In our Time’, discussing the complexities of Chinese history, and more recently, was interviewed in ‘Desert Island Discs’. Her aim and achievement in writing and speaking about China is to write and speak more popularly than academically about China, its history and culture.




The Meridian Society is organising a lunch and film show (‘The Go Master’) to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit. We hope you will be able to join us to start the New Year on a festive note. The date is Saturday 12th February 2011.

For details of the menu and a synopsis of the film – see below

Interested parties should complete the attached application form and send it together with the appropriate remittance to the address indicated on the form. It would help us to make the appropriate arrangements if you could also email us separately to indicate your interest in attending. Do this by contacting our administrator at: themeridiansociety@gmail.com

To download booking form please click here

The timetable for this event is as follows:

11.45 a.m. – meet at restaurant
[There will be a paying bar throughout . We will be holding a raffle. If anyone would like to donate a prize, please contact our administrator on: themeridiansociety@gmail.com]
12.00 a.m. – start of meal
2.00 p.m. – meal concludes
Make own way to The National Film Theatre
2.45 p.m. – film showing

The lunch and the film show may be booked together or just lunch.

The cost:

Lunch + Film: Members (@ £34 each)
Senior members and students (@ £33 each)
Non-members (@ £38 each)
Non-member senior citizens and students (@ £36 each)

Lunch only: Members (@ £26 each)
Non-members (@ £29 each)

Details of venues:

Lunch will be served at:
New Loon Fung Restaurant
42-44 Gerrard Street
London, W1V 7LP
Tel: 020 7437 3540
(nearest tube – Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus)

The film will be screened at:
BFI Southbank, formerly known as National Film Theatre, (NFT2)
Belvedere Road
South Bank
London SE1 8XT
(nearest tubes – Charing Cross or Waterloo)

Lunch menu

Soup of the day

Steamed filleted sea bass with ginger and spring onions
Braised duck with mixed vegetables
Choi sum (Chinese lettuce) with garlic
Steamed chicken
Deep- fried bean curd with chilli and garlic
Pork chop Chinese style
Rice / Tea / Fruit

Synopsis of ‘The Go Master’ [ Wu Qingyuan ]

China 2006. Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang, with Chen Chang, Sylvia Chang, Akira Emoto. 104 min. In Mandarin with English subtitles.

go master

The film will be introduced by Luke Robinson, film lecturer at Nottingham University.

The Go Master shines a light on the life and times of Wu Qingyuan. Better known by his Japanese name Go Seigen, Wu is considered the greatest Go player of the 20th century, his talents bringing him from his native China to a professional career in Japan when he was only a teenager. Based on Wu’s autobiography, this elegantly shot and remarkably restrained biopic follows the life of a singular figure, fascinating not only for his genius and achievements in the game of Go, but also for his unique experiences as a Chinese man in Japan during an immensely turbulent period in history.

With the breakout of the Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Wu Qingyuan (Chang Chen) and his family are thrown into an uncomfortable and dangerous position as Chinese nationals residing in Japan. While Wu’s family returns to China, he chooses to stay behind in his adopted country to continue to pursue the game of Go. In the quiet recluse of his school, there are no politics, only the singular dedication to his art and the love for his wife Kazuko (Ito Ayumi). However, the chaos of the times eventually forces him out of his enclave, throwing his life and mind into conflict.

Interested parties should complete the attached application form and send it together with the appropriate remittance to the address indicated on the form. It would help us to make the appropriate arrangements if you could also email us separately to indicate your interest in attending. Do this by contacting our administrator at: themeridiansociety@gmail.com

The British Film Institute will be screening three other films by Tian Zhuangzhuang. If you are interested, please buy tickets direct from them. They are:

The Blue Kite [Lan feng zheng]
China 1991. Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang.
With Liping Lü, Xiaoman Chen.
140min. Mandarin with EST. 12A
Thurs 3 Feb 14:00 NFT1

The Horse Thief [Dao Ma Zei]
China 1986. Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang. With Rigzin Tseshang.
88min. Mandarin with EST. PG
Mon 7 Feb 21:15 NFT2

Warrior and the Wolf [Lang zai ji]
China-Hong Kong- Japan – Singapore – USA , 2009. Dir Tian Zhuangzhuang. With Maggie Q, Jô Odagiri, Chung Hua Tou.
100min. Mandarin with EST
Tue 8 Feb 20:45 NFT2