Making Marks

Nicholas Quirke was given the opportunity to relive the experience of the past few months On 27 April 2020, when his artist friend Dong filmed and recorded him telling the story of his travels. He was reminded of the questions PMU put to him on film after his trip in 2017 and wondered if there was any value in a documentary of his trip. The morning, after he had a triumphant dance having weighed himself and he was still below the winning weight, had been full of the usual domestic chores. He did not have a plan for the day and when Dong messaged and asked if he would like to join him and friend to do some sketching he happily agreed. It was another area that he knew but he was going to be looking at Shichahai river, which runs from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace, and its environs with a different eye. The sun was blazing and the sky beautiful blue and he mounted a bicycle and set off for another urban sketcher experience. When he arrived and attempted to use his health kit to gain access to the banks of the water he was alarmed to discover that his Beijing Health Kit showed him as having left the city and thus triggering another 14 day quarantine period. He passed the bad news on to Peng and continued with meeting Dong and exploring the area. He was entranced by the water and the life that was now going on around its shores. There were people fishing and one old gentleman, who was fishing using the old Style pot, particularly caught his attention. They moved further south along the river, taking in an unconventional and probably illegal exploration of a Hutong whose Door was left open, and finally settled to do some sketching in an area which was usually swarming with tourists but was now the happy playground of the locals, who played chequers, strummed Ruan and Erhu, and Singers sang Peking opera while the artists sketched and pained them. It was a joyous scene watching them entertain each other and talk and no one objected to Lao Wai happily sitting and making a feeble attempt at rendering the group in pencil. In fact he was kindly praised by the characterful locals though it may have just been graciousness on their part. They were joined by Vivienne who had studied Graphic Design in Newcastle and had a better grasp of English and words tumbled out of him in a rush at being able to discuss and talk about his journey. As dusk fell he left the scene and made his way home, cycling through the encroaching night and the rush hour bike traffic. Plans to use the Labour Day holiday to go to Hubei were scrapped as Hotels would not take foreign guests and with the trouble over the Health Kit it was looking like he might have to endure another 14 days in exile. It was with an uneasy mind that he went to his bed.


  1. What a brilliant day. However the news from your health kit is confusing and alarming. Why did they allow you and Peng to leave the city if it was going to be a problem?

  2. Did you have matching outfits on?? 😂 Hope you don’t have to quarantine for 14 days, you went out of the city the other day?? xx

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