Wishing Capsules (Detail) by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Chinese artist Zhang Yanzi is staging one of her first solo exhibitions in the UK with A Quest for Healing at the Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh. Running until 4 November 2018, it will showcase her latest works stemming from her curiosity about the human body, her investigation of the human condition, medicine and healing.

The exhibition’s gentle yet probing paintings and installations have been inspired by the rich collections of the museum, its unrivalled collection of medical history, and detailed notes from found medical notebooks that are also based there.

The show includes Wishing Capsules, a large-scale installation that includes tens of thousands of wishes written by individuals over 2017 and 2018 from China, collected by the artist, sealed in medicine capsules to form a time capsule for the future when wishes are reviewed from the distance of time.

Also on display is Qi (Flow of Energy). This important piece symbolises the energy or “qi” which flows through all of us in the form of energy channels (“jing luo”) and through great cities and countries in the form of the flowing river. The healing powers of this mysterious form of energy are hinted at in its flowing, rhythmic shape, while the landscapes, mountains and rivers depicted on it demonstrate the ancient and natural context of this eternal energy. Rivers such as China’s Yellow River or Edinburgh’s Water of Leith link cities to trading routes and are the lifeblood of our metropolitan centres. As such, they come to symbolise not just prosperity but the health of our civilization.

All the Volcanoes are Nothing but Acne by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons' Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

All the Volcanoes are Nothing but Acne by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Secret Path 1-4 by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Secret Path 1-4 by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Wishing Capsules by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons' Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Wishing Capsules by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Wishing Capsules (Detail) by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Wishing Capsules (Detail) by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Zhang Yanzi, Secret Path, 2018. silk and ink on paper, 50 x 50 x 8cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Ora-Ora

Zhang Yanzi, Secret Path, 2018. silk and ink on paper, 50 x 50 x 8cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Ora-Ora

Zhang Yanzi, The Breathable, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Ora-Ora

Zhang Yanzi, The Breathable, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Ora-Ora

Qi by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Edinburgh. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

Qi by Zhang Yanzi at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Edinburgh. Credit: John McKenzie and Galerie Ora-Ora

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Author:

Katy Cowan

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