Happy drawings and sketches from daily life in Shanghai
This website aims at presenting to a wider audience the drawings and sketches of street life in mainland China by Burchard Pennink.
Born and educated in Holland Pennink worked as an international banking lawyer with an Amsterdam firm/background. He was active in several domestic and overseas jobs before he arrived in Shanghai in 1997. As he came unprepared for Mandarin contacts, he could give full visual attention to the wonderful world of Shanghai street life at the end of the 20th century.
Rather than writing nostalgic letters home Pennink created and collected images reflecting the daily activities of the Shanghai people who at the time were surmounting the consequences of the cultural revolution and preparing their city´s entry into the competition with other world centers. To this end Pennink preferred pencil, black felt tipped pens and water colors to the camera.
In 1998 he was so fortunate to come into contact with the twin writers who wrote the "Old China Hand" series including books about Western architecture in and around Shanghai: Tess Johnston and Erh Dong Qiang, photographer and cultural entrepreneur. During the opening of an exhibition of pre-war drawings of Shanghai, Pennink asked himself "why does one have to be dead to get such an exhibition?" which Tess overheard. On seeing Pennink's sketches she and her publishing partner Erh decided to open Erh’s international book store, The Old China Hand Reading Room, at 27 Shao Xing Street, for a two-week exhibition of Pennink's "Shanghai Doorstep Life" pictures. So soon after Hong Kong’s being returned to China the exhibition may be seen as a benchmark of mutual interest between China and the West at the end of last century.