Weimin He's 324 ink drawings, pen sketches and woodblock prints comprise an intimate record of the progress of construction in the newly designed Ashmolean Museum that opened late last year. An unusual approach to documentation in the age of digital photography, the catalogue provides a delightful art experience for readers who will never set foot in the Ashmolean, which is the museum for the University of Oxford. Weimin has drawn workers lifting roof beams, welding metal rods and pouring cement into the mixer. He gives us behind-the-scenes portraits of museum personnel, making each individual come alive, for example, an objects conservator at her work and a researcher in the prints room at his. An artist-in-residence at the museum and an art scholar, Weimin employed Chinese drawing and woodblock printmaking methods. His portraits were drawn on pi, xuan papers or album leaves, with Chinese brushes and inks that have been used for over a millennium. Seven of the prints and the catalogue were presented to Queen Elizabeth for the museum's opening.
Born in China's northeastern province of Heilongjiang, Weimin studied printmaking at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang before establishing himself as a professional printmaker in Harbin. His work has been exhibited in Hamburg, Germany, in Belfast, Glasgow and at Sotheby's Institute of Art in London. He was a Christensen Fellow at the Ashmolean for four years.