Taiwanese artist Ju Ming’s ‘Taichi Arch’ has been installed at St Hugh’s College.
The sculpture, which was previously on display at the entrance to the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, is part of a series that the artist began in the 1970s. The early pieces in Ju Ming’s series were carved in wood, a medium he trained in as an apprentice woodcarver in his early life. His later examples transitioned into the use of bronze, which includes the fine example now on display here at St Hugh’s.
The series draws on the martial art of tai chi for its inspiration, using the shapes held by the human body during different movements. The artist describes the form of the arch and the evolution of the series over the past 30 years as the culmination of the series’ abstract form; building on the form of the ‘Push Hand’ movements and the pared back, abstract shapes of the human body when conducting them.
The Taichi Arch, which was installed in the College grounds on Monday 19th September 2016, has perhaps rather fittingly been positioned in the entrance forecourt of the Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre Building. It was added to the Ashmolean’s collection in November 2013. It was gifted to the museum by the Juming Education and Culture Foundation in memory of Professor Michael Sullivan, an art historian specialising in Chinese art and a former Fellow of St Catherine’s College. St Hugh’s is immensely grateful to the Ashmolean Museum for allowing this iconic piece to be displayed in the College’s grounds.
It is one of several examples from the Taichi series being displayed by universities, with the Chinese University of Hong Kong having the ‘Gate of Wisdom’ on their campus. The University of Cambridge’s Biomedical campus also has a Taichi Arch on their campus that is known colloquially as the ‘Gate of Health’.