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Yangzhou - City of culture

Having spent three weeks selecting pieces for shipment, labelling, wrapping and packing a container, Weilian made a long-awaited trip to Yangzhou, home of the Eight Eccentric artists, to explore their rich culture and history.  Below is a taste of Yangzhou with more to come!

Yangzhou, located north-west of Shanghai, is a tranquil and friendly city set apart from the glamour and bustle of the more familiar destinations of Beijing and Shanghai.


ArtLuo Pin painting

Since the Tang dynasty (618C.E. – 907C.E.) Yangzhou has been one of China’s wealthiest cities renowned for its great merchant families, poets, artists, and scholars. A leading artistic movement in the late eighteenth century was that of the Eight Eccentrics - eight masters noted for rejecting orthodox ideas about painting in favour of a style deemed expressive and individualist. Their art delivers a spirit of vigour and simplicity.

Shown here is a landscape painting by Luo Pin (1733C.E.-1799C.E.). This deftly executed work evokes an ethereal lightness similar to that of nineteenth century western impressionist painters. Such an abstract approach is very different to the traditional detailed landscapes of earlier artists in China. The Eight Eccentrics shared this bold, and at the time, quirky approach.




Yangzhou book


Yangzhou is the Chinese publishing capital for traditional block and movable type printing. This volume of paintings by the Eight Eccentrics is block-printed on rice paper with hand-sewn binding by the Guangling Publishing House in Yangzhou. It gives a textured shading effect authentic to the original ink and watercolour painting.




As you walk around it becomes obvious that even in today’s Yangzhou the Eight Eccentrics’ influence is profound. People not only still passionately enjoy their art, their spirit can also be seen in the gracefulness of their housing, gardens and food.

Views of Ge family garden

Yangzhou food


Yangzhou cuisine is famed for its freshness and delicate natural flavor. This finely chopped bean curd in chicken broth delivers a silky texture, and like a fine wine, first the aroma then the taste, make an exquisite flavour.

How to finish styling a room with a piece of portable art

“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

Jane Austen, Emma

Imagine entering your bright new home with its just completed renovations. You look around to admire the space. You love the colours and the new furniture.

But is something missing? Something to make the room pop?

Or perhaps you have an established home with pieces picked up over the years. Everything fits in perfectly. But is the room looking a tad tired?

A piece of individually designed porcelain adds spark to a room

The porcelain capital of China is a city called Jingdezhen which has an unbroken tradition of production extending more than 1000 years. Generations of artisans have explored new forms and colors instilling stunning beauty to their craft.  A well-crafted genuine Jingdezhen porcelain greets you with pleasing form, refined artwork and translucent lustre.

Play with shapes and dress them creatively

Tall rectangular and cylindrical vases make striking features emphasizing vertical spaces; smaller cube and round vases contrast and highlight horizontal surfaces.

cube vaseWhichever form you choose - play with it. Fill a vase with seasonal flowers or select colours to express your mood. How about an ikebana arrangement with stems and cuttings from your own garden?

Large bowls are great for fruit. Mix it with vegetables for a still life scene or float flowers in it for the weekend lunch party.

Cheese plates have an obvious role at dinner. Hand made and painted, they are also gorgeous as stand alone decoration. So don’t put it away, leave it on the table to be admired at other times.

Move it around

Their simple versatility makes porcelain portable art so put them in different rooms.  Remember the vase you bought especially for the hall and looks great with the dried grass arrangement? Give it a new lease of life in the lounge with fresh pink roses. Or place it in your bedroom without flowers.

You will be surprised how the change of colour and shape can make each room look and feel fresh again. These elements of inspiration could stimulate other creative interior design ideas.

Consider growing a collection of pieces from one artist and create a ceramic theme within your home.

Create a unique decor without breaking the bank

egg-shaped vaseEach piece of hand painted porcelain is unique. A piece of art. But hand painted porcelain doesn’t have to be expensive. These beautiful objects are affordable, starting from $150. What’s more they last a lifetime. In fact they’ll last many lifetimes.

Weilian goes to Jingdezhen frequently and works with a number of porcelain artists acquiring pieces exclusive for Humble House. Included in our gallery are vases, bowls, plates and other decorative items. Drop in to find a piece for your home and chat to learn more about these fascinating objects.







Interview with Anton Uildriks - his art and current exhibition

A few weeks ago Anton and his wife Jana visited our gallery after seeing the sign on the street. We began chatting and I discovered Anton is an artist. A few emails later and we are now holding an exhibition of Anton’s work.

I wanted to find out more about Anton and his art.

Anton started by telling me he had been painting since he was a young boy going out to the bush sketching with his dad. “Dad was a graphic artist. At that time we were living in Adelaide and dad designed wine bottle labels. But he also loved to paint landscapes around Adelaide. I would tag along and sketch while he painted.”

Anton and his family moved to Canberra when he was 8 years old and this has been home since then. He studied art at school followed by night classes at the School of Art.

I asked about other artists who had influenced him. “Spending so much time with dad it’s no surprise I also painted landscapes using acrylic on canvas. However, our styles are quite different,”

“I greatly admire the work of Brett Whiteley, Arthur Boyd and Picasso among others although they have not influenced my particular style.”

“What is the source of your inspiration to paint?”

Highland range(s)“I love going out camping with the family to our favourite spots between Tathra and Bermagui and the local Namadgi national park. Occasionally I get up around the Cairns area where Jana’s family lives. “I take landscape and wildlife photographs from which I create paintings.”

Anton has 2 styles of painting. “The first style is realism that I use for landscapes, the second style I use for animals is more interpretive capturing the spirit of the animal.”

“When I paint I am totally absorbed, I get in the zone and nothing distracts me.”

The paintings in this exhibition are scenes from around Tidbinbilla with an extra dash of colour from 2 kingfisher paintings. “I lived in Tidbinbilla for 10 years,” Anton said, “I was by myself at the time and it was a chance opportunity to live in an area that I loved so much. There were wombats and kangaroos at the front door and I was always walking the hills taking in the quiet beauty of the area.”

“Even though I have moved back into Canberra the family and I make regular trips out there and it is just as peaceful and beautiful as when I was living there.”

“And the kingfishers?” I asked. “That’s from one of my recent Cairns trip.”

“How do you decorate your home?”

“It’s eclectic”, Anton responded. “In terms of furniture it is modern with a couple of pieces in Chinese style. I also have my grandmother’s hutch that I love for the family connection. “

“There is both my and my father’s art on the wall along with the work of other artists.  Decorative pieces include Nepalese statues and thangkas I purchased on a trip there a few years ago.”

My final question. “And your favourite piece?”

“That would be a coffee table made from an ironbark plank I got in Bodalla and had dressed by Thor’s Hammer here in Canberra. It is sitting on concrete blocks.”

“I love it because it gets used every day and is where the family get together to chat and watch a movie.”

Anton’s exhibition is on display at Humble House until the end of June; opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm.




How to solve a niggly seating problem (and add a dash of style to your home)

It happens to us all.

Friends sit in your lounge room sipping pre-dinner drinks. Only, there are not enough seats. You end up perched on the armrest like a donkey on a fence rail. Not a comfy way to enjoy your friends’ banter.

But you can’t cram more chairs in the room. Because you’d have to walk sideways like a crab. So, how do you get extra seating in your room? And still keep your room warm and inviting?

A simple solution exists.

Antique Chinese stools make excellent seating and add style.

These stools are:


“Craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.”

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman

Traditional Chinese stools use solid timber and handmade joinery. Relax knowing the tight interlocking joints will keep a tubby relative comfortable and safe. The generous size keeps your wine glass secure from tumbling to the floor.

Antique furniture has a patina, the marks that come with time and use.  Unlike modern new furniture where any mark is obvious, the same mark on Chinese stools will blend in and become another small addition to its history.


Stools are ideal beside a chair or bring a couple together to form a coffee table. If they are not needed in the lounge room use them as bedside tables.


“Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into 
are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing
 for long years.
 And for this reason, some old things are lovely
 warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them.” DH Lawrence

Antique handmade furniture adds warmth and character to light up a room and make you smile.

The different styles mean Chinese stools complement any décor. Compare the minimalist to the decorative styles of these stools.


Stool with latticeFlush cornered stool


Which would suit your home?

Surprise your friends with your knowledge

Look closely. The carving is a cloud motif and represents a wish for good fortune.

There is poetic imagery in the frame. Bridge stretchers join the legs of the stools and evoke a sense of people coming together. The horse hoof design of the feet tell you the stool is as strong as a horse to sit on.

Stools with cloud motif


Express your personal style

Ready to put an end to that nagging seating problem?

Then do it in style.

Take a couple of photos of your room on a smartphone. Come in for a visit to find the perfect piece for your home.

Do you prefer coffee or tea?