40 members of the staff and student community at AUB are the subject of watercolour portraits in TheGallery’s latest exhibition, painted by Visiting Professor Lei Yongbin from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chong Qing, China.

Entitled Swimming Upstream: Cultures of Watercolour, the exhibition will be held in the University’s state-of-the-art CRAB Drawing Studio, which was designed by Professor Sir Peter Cook RA and opened by the late Dame Zaha Hadid in 2016.

Professor Lei has been in residence at AUB for the past year, as part of a new initiative by the University to connect academics and students with Chinese arts institutions.

This new partnership aims to build stronger educational links between Bournemouth and Asia, positioning Bournemouth as an education destination in the UK.

Professor Lei has painted a total of 100 portraits of staff and students in watercolour in the Fine Art studios on campus.

He asked staff from across the University to sit for him – from students to Lecturers, Heads of Department and the Deputy Vice Chancellor.

The exhibition will go on to be displayed at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in China, bringing the world of AUB and its community of creative makers to Asia.

Professor Lei’s Mentor at AUB and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Dominic Shepherd, said: “We are very excited to be opening this exhibition to the public.

“Whilst in the UK watercolour is often mistakenly considered a pastime for amateurs, in China it is a serious medium that has brought a renaissance to the painted arts.

Lei’s portraits beautifully evoke the personalities and characters of students and staff at AUB who make up our creative community. To sit for a portrait by Lei is quite a unique experience – he works very quickly and intensely.

Professor Lei has got to know and understand the people he has met through the process of drawing, truly demonstrating that art is a global language.”

Professor Lei Yongbin was born in 1974 in E‘mei, Sichuan province of China. He is currently the Vice Professor of the Public Art Department in Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and is a member of the Chinese Artists Association.

You can find out more about the exhibition here.