When Abel Pruñonosa moved to Hangzhou earlier this year, he had his sights set on bringing the art of sculpting to prominence in the city. Having exhibited his sculptures in various art fairs around Hangzhou, he now finds himself returning to his former vocation of teaching sculpting. Abel recently opened a workshop beside Fenghuang Shan (Phoenix Hill) in a location which he deems perfect for giving his students inspiration.
I visited Abel on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon. The persistent rain did nothing to dampen the vibrant atmosphere of his workshop, curiously named “The Beach”.
Why did you choose to come to Hangzhou to set up a sculpting workshop?
I came here three years ago with my brother and friends for travelling. We travelled around the South of China and we also went to Shanghai. When we came to Hangzhou, we felt this place was very beautiful. I was living in Barcelona, and as you know it’s not a huge city. I feel Hangzhou is a lot like Barcelona. It’s bigger but not as big as Shanghai or Beijing. I feel more at home in this place. I also have friends here and I like the quiet. You have mountains here (near the workshop) and there are many beautiful spots in Hangzhou.
What’s the reason for naming your workshop ‘The Beach’?
Well the workshop is in part of the house where I am living. My housemate is a surfing lover and he wanted to decorate the house in a Mediterranean style, hence the name.
How many workshop sessions do you run per week?
Now I’m just starting out. The idea is to be flexible with the schedules of the students. So maybe I would start one course now if people got in touch or dropped by the workshop. I want to make it as easy as possible for the students, so I will arrange my schedule to suit them. I teach small groups of students at one time. I aim for around five students per class. There is an introductory course for three hours which involves making a small human head. The time just flies by in that class.
Are your human sculptures based on real people? Do you ask people to sit for you?
Yeah usually. Usually I prefer working with a model because that’s when you can see the finer detail. Imagination is always a disaster. Sometimes when the models are sitting and waiting, I realize we need to change something, so I can ask them to move around or change their pose. It’s a very special thing for some people because it’s not every day that you will be asked “Hey, do you want to sit for me?”
What’s your latest sculpture that you are working on?
I’m working on a bust right now of two hands tying a tie. I went to a building, and they asked me to do something for the lobby. That place is quite elegant but it also feels very masculine because they used black marble to decorate the place. It’s a business building too, so this kind of sculpture fits well.
You must have to use a lot of tools…
Usually, I use my hands first to make the main shape and then I use tools. I have a lot of tools, but I always use the same five or six. I even make my own tools from time to time.
Did you have your own workshop in Spain?
Yeah, I had one in Barcelona and also another in my hometown that is near Barcelona, so I would go between the two. I taught in several schools around Barcelona. In fact, I have a regular course in Barcelona that I teach every December, so I need to go back home next month for a few weeks.
How different is it giving a workshop in English as opposed to doing it in your native language?
It’s fine actually. I sometimes use Baidu translate in the class. Here, it gives me a chance to practice one or two words in Chinese. I have more Chinese people visiting than expats, so it’s nice to see that they are interested in sculpting.
You studied Chemistry at university before changing to Fine Arts. What inspired you to change your degree?
Well, when I was at secondary school, I thought that I wanted to be a scientist. I always enjoyed drawing too. In my second year of university, I met a guy who was studying Art and Physical Education. I found out from him that I could study two subjects at the same time, so in my third year I studied both subjects. Finally I did a class about sculpting with a very good teacher, and that subject changed my life. I focused completely on Art in my fourth year of university. So now I’ve forgotten almost everything about Chemistry. I used to be able to multiply really fast, but now it takes longer.
What’s the most difficult thing you have ever tried to sculpt?
I think portraits need more time. When you try to do a portrait based on pictures, it’s very difficult because you have to look at a 2D image and put it into 3D. You have to understand the volume and the depth of what you are sculpting. With a picture, you can’t see all the dimensions of the object.
Do you draw as well as sculpt?
Yeah sure. Before sculpting I sketch my ideas and then make a small sculpture of it. I then think how I can do the bigger one.
What’s your proudest moment during your working career?
In Barcelona, I had a small exhibition; it was one of the first. My family came and it was good. They were really used to seeing my sculptures at home, but when they saw all the sculptures in one place and with people congratulating me, it was really nice.
Do you think that even people with no artistic streak whatsoever could have a go at sculpting?
Sure. I always say that sculpting is easier than drawing because we live in a 3D world. We are used to the objects around us. If you want to do a drawing, you have to work to a scale and you have to consider the position and length. With sculpting though, you can compare your sculpture to real objects, for example you can compare your arm to an arm that you are sculpting. Objects are more alive for me. I always have to make my sculptures a bit bigger than the real object though because the clay shrinks when it’s drying.
Abel makes sculptures in clay and in resin. He will have some of his sculptures bronzed so that they last longer. He is always changing the way he sculpts as he believes there are so many things to learn. “Before I used to do the whole head and the whole sculpture, but now I focus on one detail. Maybe in a few years I will change my technique again and focus on one colour or one style.”
Abel will travel to Spain for Christmas, but he will be back on January 12th. If you are interested in taking any sculpting classes with him, you can scan the QR code to find out more information.
The Impossible Burger patty in a Burger King Whopper is the biggest bang so far in the galaxy of plant-based meats, and now that bang is even bigger: The Impossible Whopper goes nationwide at all 7,200 Burger King locations in the US on Aug. 8. After a successful test in St. Louis, which is battleground over the definition of "meat", the Impossible Whopper spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and other cities, but national rollout has always been the benchmark of a new era in fast food.
Nationwide availability of the Impossible Whopper does much to assuage concerns that plant-based patties are a fad, a concern cited as a reason that McDonalds hasn't yet made a similar move. When and if McDonald's does choose (really, anoint) a plant-based "meat" patty it will be a bellwether, thanks to the brand having twice the number of locations and nearly four times the sales as Burger King in the US. McDonald's introduced a McVegan in Germany using a plant-based "Incredible Burger" from Nestle that has all the hallmarks of clear broadside at Impossible.
The new McVegan made with Nestle's "Incredible Burger" debuted in McDonald's German locations shortly after the Impossible Whopper was announced.
While the big food chains offer burgers, tacos, breakfast sandwiches and soon bacon made with plant-based meat, an even bigger battle is shaping up in grocery stores. Impossible just cleared a major hurdle toward offering its plant-based meat in stores, thanks to a favorable FDA ruling over the safety of heme, the plant ingredient that allows the burger to "bleed." Barring any objections that offer new proof the heme is unsafe, Impossible could have its burgers in grocery cases by this fall.
Aside from a specially formed Impossible Burger patty that conforms precisely to Burger King's bun diameter, the Impossible Whopper features the same bun, cheese and condiments as a traditional Whopper.
The Impossible Whopper has moved from regional availability to taking its place on Burger King's main menu page.
"We're making meat from plants. That's never been done before," Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown told me, tacitly demoting competitor Beyond Meat's plant-based burger, which has been offered at most of the 1,100 Carl's Jr. restaurants since the beginning of 2019. "People have made plant-based replacements for meat, but they haven't made plant-based meat."
One way the Impossible Whopper will indeed differ from the original is price, costing a significant $1 more in an industry where brands have gone to war brandishing menus of items that only cost a dollar. As with electric cars, price parity with the established choice is a future linchpin to mainstream success.
On the left is the Impossible Whopper we hacked in Impossible's test kitchen. On the right, a traditional Whopper, indistinguishable visually and on the palate.
"Once we have products that taste the same or better and that cost less, plant-based and clean meat will simply take over," according to Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, which champions plant- and cell-based meats.
"So very little will change in people's everyday lives as more and more meat is produced either from plants or from cells. Consumers will continue to buy burgers, chicken sandwiches and sausages, [but] those products will simply not have the adverse impact on our environment and global health."
Impossible says its team spent an inordinate amount of time getting its burger to survive the "death-defying drop" at the end of the broiler-conveyor without breaking apart.
The Plant Meat Wars are Just Starting
Burger King doesn't break out sales figures for Whoppers, let alone its expectations for the more expensive Impossible Whopper, but some insights can be inferred from a 2018 survey by Faunalytics. Assuming price was no different between beef and alternative burgers, 65% of consumers polled said they'd still stick with beef, 21% would choose a plant-based burger like Impossible, and 11% would select a cultured burger grown from animal cells, which isn't expected on the market until the early 2020s.
But Impossible's Pat Brown feels such surveys leave out the qualitative experience. "If you give them our burger, and then ask them the question again, a very large majority of them say they would definitely buy it and would be willing to pay a premium for it."
Acceptance of plant-based meats turns not only on taste, texture and price but on overcoming momentum. Environmental and animal welfare arguments have triggered a million conversations and social media posts about meat's issues, yet US per capita meat consumption hit an all-time high in 2018.
A case of Impossible Whopper patties, the result of a long effort to comport to the realities of the fast food industry, not the other way around.
And while burgers are the American diet icon, steaks aren't far behind, and an even bigger challenge in alternative meat marketing may soon unfold at fast casual steak chains like Outback or Texas Roadhouse. Unlike burgers, steaks generally arrive on the plate unadorned, without bun, cheese or condiments to mask any shortcomings. Get steak right, so the thinking goes, and the plant-based dominoes begin to fall.
At the auspicious time and date of 10:08am, August 8th, Hangzhou International School (HIS) celebrated with a Groundbreaking Ceremony at its new site on Huxi Road (close to Yingcui Road). Students, Parents, Faculty, Board Members of the HIS Community attended along with a number of VIP guests, including Deputy Secretary General Of Hangzhou Mulnicipal Government, Mr. Cheng Hua Min, Deputy Secretary of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Ms. Zheng Li Min, Deputy Chief of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Mr. Mao Wei Min, Chief of Binjiang District, Mr. Li Zhi Long, etc.
Hangzhou International School (HIS) was first opened in 2002 at its current site in Binjiang, alongside the campus of No. 2 High School. HIS serves students from 2-18 years old and is the first International School and only IB and WASC accredited school in the region. The school enrolls over 700 students from over 50 nationalities. Graduates attend top universities around the world. The Director of School, Mr. Jeffry Stubbs, has worked with HIS for thirteen years and has seen the rapid growth of student enrollment over the past years. As the current school has reached capacity, the new campus will accommodate up to 1300 students and include state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities, including: 25-meter swimming pool, 650 seat theater, two soccer fields, three gyms, 3 libraries a design center, and separate early childhood facility. The new school will also meet the highest ratings for energy and environment design.
Since 2017, Hangzhou International School (HIS) has worked in collaboration with the Hangzhou Municipal Government, Hangzhou Education Bureau and Binjiang District government, to establish a new facility for future growth. In December 2017, HIS signed an agreement with the Binjiang District to lease land and build a new campus in the White Horse Lake area of Binjiang District. The new HIS campus is located at the foot of beautiful Langdai Mountain and surrounded by water canals and park space. White Horse Lake is located about a 15-minute drive from the current site. While the current HIS has been a wonderful home with many memories and achievements, the HIS community is excited about the additional facilities and 21st century design of the new campus.
HIS is an IB World School that offers the expatriate community in Hangzhou an inclusive international experience and curriculum (Nursery to Grade 12) based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. HIS is the first and only international school that is fully accredited by an international accrediting association and authorized by the IB. The school currently serves students from over 50 nationalities. As a community, HIS administration, staff, parents, and students work closely to achieve high levels of success for every child. Graduates attend prestigious universities throughout the world.
Second time lucky: Daredevil French inventor Franky Zapata, 40, becomes the first person to successfully cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard a week after his first, failed attempt.
· French inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard
· The 40-year-old is the first person in history to complete the flight following a failed attempt last week
· He landed on the White Cliffs of Dover after just 23 minutes of flight following takeoff at Sangatte, France
Flying Frenchman Franky Zapata today became the first person in history to cross the English Channel on a kerosene-powered board not much bigger than a tea tray – saying it 'feels magnificent!'.
The 40-year-old set off towards the White Cliffs of Dover from Sangatte beach, in Calais, at 7:16am UK time in front of a cheering crowd.
Within seconds he was soaring through the skies looking just like a high-tech version of Marty McFly, the character played by Michael J. Fox in the ‘Back to the Future’ films.
There were shouts of ‘Allez le Flying Frenchman!’ and ‘Go Franky, go!’ including from Mr Zapata’s wife, Kystal.
And at 7:39am – 23 minutes later – the triumphant Mr Zapata landed at St Margaret’s Bay in Kent, saying: 'Frankly, this feels magnificent!'.
The army reservist and former Jetski champion lifted an arm in the air in triumph, shed a tear, and savoured his incredible success.
'There were no problems this time,’ he told waiting reporters. ‘Frankly, I’m tired – I’m not on holiday, but I’m elated. Thanks so much my team, and to my wife'.
'For the last five to six kilometres I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I'm not the one to decide that, time will tell.'
'We made a machine three years ago...and now we've crossed the Channel, it's crazy,' he said, before breaking into tears.
Ms Zapata had been left hugely disappointed on July 25 when he failed in his first attempt to complete the same 22.4 mile journey.
Then, he had crashed off a refuelling boat 12 miles into the trip, but this time a larger vessel and landing platform were used.
The self-styled ‘Flying Frenchman’ travelled at a speed of some 87mph, staying at least 49 feet above the water.
French naval vessels kept an eye out during the crossing in case of trouble.
Calais authorities also gave him permission to keep the refuelling boat in French waters, something they had refused the first time around due to safety concerns.
Temperatures were above 25C on Sunday, the sun was shinning brightly, and there was next to no wind or waves.
The state-of-the-art device, which was built from scratch, resembled a souped-up tea tray and could reach an altitude of 10,000 feet. It was powered by five turbojet engines.
Mr Zapata wore a flying suit inspired by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.
There was a maximum of 42 litres in Mr Zapata’s backpack, meaning he once again had to refuel half way across the Channel.
This meant landing on a boat, and swapping backpacks during a stop of no more than two minutes.
He added: ‘We created a new way of flying. We don't use wings. You are like a bird, it is your body that is flying. It is a boyhood dream. We want to follow a little bit in the footsteps of the pioneers of aviation.’
Mr Zapata hopes his device will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware.
Last month, the board impressed crowds at France's annual July 14 Bastille Day Parade, where Mr Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde dressed as a soldier and brandishing a rifle.
The Home-made Hoverboard that Flies at 120mph and Can Reach 10,000ft
Franky Zapata's designed his home-made hoverboard himself, which is inspired by the flying suit worn by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.
Powered by five jet engines, the impressive 'Flyboard Air' can propel its driver through the sky at impressive speeds of up to 120mph and reach an altitude of 10,000 feet.
The state-of-the-art device, which he built from scratch, is powered by kerosene which is widely used as a fuel in the air industry.
Mr Zapata admits it is very similar to the hoverboard used by Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox, in the Back to the Future films.
However, current models of the Flyboard Air can only stay airborne for about ten minutes on a single tank of fuel.
The impressive board operates via a small joystick and the rider must maintain a rigid body position while using small movements to help steer.
Last week, the Flyboard Air wowed crowds at France's annual Bastille Day Parade, where Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde, donning soldier's uniform and holding a rifle.
Mr Zapata now hopes it will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware - and he was even granted £1.26 million by France's Ministry of Defence to develop it.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said that the board would be 'tested for different uses, for example as a flying logistical platform, or indeed as an assault platform.'
He previously broke a Guinness World Record by using the hoverboard to travel more than 7,388ft off the coastal town of Sausset-les-Pins - but was almost prosecuted by France's Civil Aviation Authority for the impressive feat.
He has since flown the Flyboard Air across a stretch of the Arizona desert.
Mr Zapata initially designed a board powered by water jets a decade ago, using a hose from the exhaust of a jet-ski to power an aerial device.
It can blast riders roughly 30ft above the waves, and allow them to perform somersaults and other tricks.
It has been in commercial production for several years now and is popular among thrill-seeking holidaymakers across the world.
Mr Zapata then spent four years developing a device that does not need to be connected to a jet-ski, so can fly over both land and sea.
The missing link of the “New Silk Highway” is set to finally be completed. Construction has begun on a new highway that will stretch from Russia’s border with Kazakhstan to Belarus, serving as a critical part of the China-Western Europe transport corridor—an infrastructure mega-project that has been described as the “construction of the century.”
Once completed, the China-Western Europe transport corridor is meant to be the primary nervous system of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the overland portion of China's Belt and Road initiative. The corridor begins at the Chinese port of Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea and stretches along the Lianhuo Expressway, China’s longest road, to the Khorgos dry port on the border of Kazakhstan before moving through Russia en route to Western Europe. The corridor is meant to eventually combine road, rail and air transport hubs into a multi-modal ecosystem which could revolutionize the economic role of the central stretches of Eurasia and alter our paradigms of how goods are shipped between China and Europe. Ideally, this highway would allow trucks to travel between China and Europe in just eleven days, as opposed to 30-50 days by sea and 15 days by rail, making it the fastest overland option of the New Silk Road.
While the China-Western Europe transport corridor got its start in 2009, it was hamstrung by Russia’s reluctance to give its portion of the project proper attention and funding. For years, the corridor served as a high-speed transit route into the heart of Eurasia, rather than a bonafide “Silk Road” which properly connects the east with the west. Trucks would speed across China and Kazakhstan on one of the world’s most modern highways only to run aground at the Russian border, where they would meet head on with infrastructure of a more modest persuasion. However, the fortunes of this mega-project may soon change.
Dubbed the Meridian highway, Russia’s long-awaited portion of the China-Western Europe transport corridor is now under active development. It is to become a 2,000km toll road from the Sagarchin crossing point with Kazakhstan to the border of Belarus.
This new highway is slated to cost in the ballpark of $9.3 billion, with most of the financing coming from private firms rather than public coffers—although investors have sought $500 million of government backing to hedge against potential unforeseen political upheavals, such as the closing of borders. The main player behind the project is a Russian investment holding called LLC Meridian, a company that’s fronted by Alexander Ryazanov, the former deputy chairman of Russian gas giant Gazprom and current board member of RZD, Russia’s railway monopoly, who claims to already be in possession of 80% of the land the road is slated to pass through.
The Meridian highway is primarily being developed for cargo transport, and the main stream of revenue is expected to come from tolls, which Ryazanov estimates will take at least 12-14 years to recoup his company’s initial investment. However, the highway is also posited to generate a large amount of knee-jerk development along its route and create new jobs, in addition to reducing transport times from China to the west of Russia three-fold, according to the Russian Ministry of Transport.
One concerning aspect of the project is its geopolitical overtones. Jonathan Hillman of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, points out that the route of the new highway subverts Ukraine, which “would add to a series of Russia-led transport projects that limit Ukraine’s connectivity with the east." Political objectives adulterating transport routes and countries battling their rivals with large-scale infrastructure projects are nothing unusual on the New Silk Road. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, for example, takes a conspicuous long-cut around the contour of Armenia, further cutting the small country off from its neighbors and putting it on the outside of the trans-Eurasian cargo flows that are starting to trickle through.
Hillman also pointed out that Russia could improve the future of this project by removing glaring trade barriers in the Eurasian Economic Union. One of the biggest bottlenecks of the Belt and Road isn’t just the fact that there are gaps in key trans-Eurasian transport routes but Russian sanctions against the import and transit of many products that could otherwise be shipped overland between Europe and China, which has actually given rise to a competing new corridor that bypasses Russia to the south.
While Russia has always officially been a participant in China's Belt and Road initiative and the broader New Silk Road, the country's level of actual commitment has always remained in question. Spanning across much of the Eurasian landmass, Russian participation is necessary if China's Belt and Road is to flourish. Two of the major overland routes between China and Europe pass through Russia, and Russian and Belarusian transport companies are often the workhorses behind the scenes that actually make these corridors function. However, Russia has carried out policies, including the above mentioned sanctions, which run directly against the "win-win" nature of the Belt and Road, and have been prone to delay or otherwise hamper the development of key infrastructure projects that must pass through their realm. The start of the Meridian highway is a good indication of where Russia is leaning as the Belt and Road picks up momentum.
Last week, we posted an article titled “Do You Know How Much Urine is in the Swimming Pools?” The survey at the end of the article showed that more than 60% of respondents have peed in the pool.
Recently, the supervisors of the Municipal Health and Wellness Committee conducted random monitoring of 289 swimming pools in Hangzhou. The first list of pools that failed the inspection was announced. Let's take a look at them, you might have been to quite a few.
Remark: According to the "GB9667-1996 Swimming Pool Hygiene Standards", the standard value of free residual chlorine (pool) is 0.3-0.5mg/L; the standard value of urea hygiene is ≤3.5mg/L; the total number of bacteria is ≤1000CFU/mL.
The results are not all bad and there are some safe and clean swimming pools in Hangzhou. Check out the list of A-class swimming pools, and go ahead to have a nice swim.
A Little More to Know
Free Residual Chlorine: The requirement for free residual chlorine is to ensure that the water in the pool has a continuous ability to disinfect and can inhibit the re-propagation of residual bacteria in the water.
Urea: Urea in the pool is mainly derived from our sweat, secretions and excretions. Excessive urea content indicates a higher degree of contamination of the pool water.
Total bacteria: The total number of bacteria can be controlled when there is enough disinfectant in the pool, the pH value is kept within the specified limits, the circulation of pool water is appropriate, the swimming pool filtration equipment is often cleaned, and the swimming pool hygiene management is strengthened.