George Chinnery ©Boats off the A-Ma temple Macao
Screening of In the Footsteps of George Chinnery: An English artist in Macao. Presented and narrated by Patrick Conner, author of George Chinnery, Artist of India and the China Coast.
This fascinating 50-minute documentary gives audiences a rare insight into the life of George Chinnery, one of the few artists to spend most of his career in India and Guangdong province on the South China Sea coast.
The presenter is art historian Patrick Conner, the world’s leading expert on Chinnery. Conner describes the artist as a flamboyant personality, an outstanding artist in the Romantic tradition, and a man with an amazing eye for detail. “Chinnery lends himself to a film, because he was an extraordinary character who lived in a place – Macao – that perfectly suited his talents. And his talents were of a kind that everybody can appreciate.”
The film relates modern-day Macao to the city experienced by Chinnery, with its street markets, and hawkers set among the city’s great Jesuit churches, Chinese temples, Portuguese forts and elegant Praya Grande.
The project was conceived by New Zealand-born producer Campbell McLean. “It’s an important story to tell,’ says McLean. “Chinnery lived here in a pivotal moment in China’s history, through the First Opium War and the founding of Hong Kong.” The documentary was filmed in Macao by an international team, with an Australian lead cameraman, an English director and a crew drawn largely from Macao and Hong Kong.
Born in London in 1774, George Chinnery studied at the Royal Academy Schools before moving to Dublin; here he married and developed his skills as a portrait and landscape artist. In 1802 he sailed to India, settling first in Madras (Chennai) and then Calcutta (Kolkata), where he enjoyed considerable success while accumulating debts on an epic scale.
To evade his creditors he left India in 1825 for the Portuguese settlement of Macao, where he lived on for 27 years more. He never returned to Europe; nor did he see his wife or his children – two legitimate and two illegitimate – again.
During his first years on the China coast, Chinnery travelled regularly between Macao and Canton (Guangzhou), where he painted portraits of the merchants (Chinese, Western and Parsi) and their families. He sketched the grand architecture, the makeshift dwellings, and above all the Chinese people of Macao: fishermen, boatwomen, barbers and blacksmiths – often accompanied by goats, cattle and well-fed pigs. It is this free and confident recording of everyday life that we now recognise as a major element of his genius.
In 1846 Chinnery lived for six months in the new colony of Hong Kong, but returned to spend his last years, still sketching fluently, among his friends in the cosmopolitan city of Macao. He died in 1852 at the age of 78, and lies buried in Macao’s Protestant Cemetery, where visitors still pay their respects at his memorial inscribed in Chinese, English and Portuguese.
In the Footsteps of George Chinnery: An English artist in Macao
A Crane Production presented by Campbell McLean for Aomen.tv
Director: Terry O’Toole
Editor: André Branco
Executive producers: Campbell McLean, Jill Rigg, Terry O’Toole
Director of Photography: Jason Riddell
Script: Campbell McLean and Patrick Conner
Funded with assistance from: Fundaçao Macau; Instituto Cultural do Governo da R.A.E. de Macau
Watch the trailer below:
Pre-screening reception: 18.00 – 19.00 (Generously sponsored by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO))
Screening: 19.00 – 19.50
Q&A with Patrick Conner: 19.50 – 20.15
Reception: 20.15 -21.00 (Generously sponsored by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO)
To book tickets for this event, please click here.
General: £10, Concessions: £8, Asia House Arts Members: Free, booking required.
Please call 0207 307 5454 if you experience any issues booking tickets.