Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)


  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

At Mr Shao’s

Posted by mrdemocracy on 25,08,2008

I should mention that some of this blog has been written offline and at another time. The website is not easily accessible in China – I have to use a proxy such as Proxy4china.com which makes it slower.

Its 7:30pm, I’m sitting on the sofa in Mr Shao’s living room. We weren’t keen on Mr Shao right from the start. He’s a little younger than I expected, but not much more friendly. We were offered grapes and Pepsi, but the lavish tea set wasn’t put into use. It’s getting a little late, and we’d like to get it done. Jackson is now in the bathroom, calling his friend to ask what exactly you do put in a contract, as he’s never made one. Mr Shao is at his computer, perhaps chatting or doing some other work. We had pretty much arranged a price by the time we came (17Rmb, £1.35), but of course wanted to bring it down. Maybe making a price before coming all this way was a mistake – he knows we’re interested at that price. Our distrust of him raised considerably, when he explained that the quote he had given us didn’t include putting the arms, legs and head on the body of the doll. That would be extra you see, otherwise we would just get a bag of body bits. It’s a wonder you don’t get charged extra for plates, chopsticks, and furniture in Chinese restaurants, although Jackson tells me you do in some places. I bet they tell you after you’ve eaten.

We’re going through the various points of the contract now, Jackson amended Mr Shao’s document. We need ‘Suzy Sprints’ nappy for instance, that wasn’t in the photo. We mentioned visiting and videoing in the factory, he said it’ll be no problem, we might just need to slip it in the contract. The last bus to Guangzhou leaves at 9, and we’re half an hour from the bus station. Neither of us fancy staying in Huizhou, better back to Guangzhou, back to the Acedemy. There’s Peep Show on youtube there for me, and 19th century western art history DVDs for Jackson.

I just counted the wad of cash, Jackson seems to have everything under control with the contract. Mr Shaou just called to see about our box, how long it would take. Is this documenting something, describing it on your laptop while it happens? I wonder if he’s wondering what I’m doing. I wonder if he wonders who I am. Why have I come all this way to haggle with him in his house? I think he’s got a little kid, but maybe all the dolls are samples. He says the 7 days are tight, because of the clothes, which is a shame, we don’t really want them anyway. Just noticed that the larger boxes have contents details on the side, including a name or description – good, I can put “Oliver Walker/ Mr Democracy” on the side. I’m happy not just because it looks cool (Democracy arriving in cardboard boxes), but because the customs and Trading Standards should be more easily placated.

Jackson is now working against the clock to write the amendments to the contract. 3 minutes. Meanwhile, I hover and eat cold sweet bean soup, and get trinkets from Mr Shaou, who nows seems more friendly. Its worrying – these awful trinkets are probably the kind my doll should be made from. Instead, we’ve gone for something altogether better looking, after lots of skyping and emails back and forth with friends dotted around the world for advice. The original plan wasn’t to try to get something that I really liked, sorry China, it was to get something cheap and mass produced, which says ‘cheap Chinese s***’. On that note, maybe better to have gone for something better. Tom Shi, who was letting me use his studio, was keen that I don’t reinforce the low quality Chinese products stereotype.

We have missed the bus. Signed, paid up, now off round the corner to get a hotel and eat dinner with Mr Shaou and his little boy, at a restaurant cum aquarium. Its one thing to have the fish recently killed, but they try to avoid actually ever killing them, in order to keep them fresh. Our fish was descaled on the pavement while still flapping. Maybe I should stop eating fish aswell as meat.

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