Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Since I met Michelle Blumenthal I've associated the Embankment Building with her. Visiting her cavernous apartment in the depth of the building was a special treat. A huge antique trunk as a coffee table. Yellow frilled blown-glass ashtrays, the real ones from the Cathay Hotel. A great 1930s sofa she salvaged from the back gate of the same hotel during a recent "renovation" and had re-upholstered with a cow hide. Abstract paintings by a Chinese artist whose work she liked and patronized.

A kang in the the office room was a great place to spread maps and scatter papers. Michelle was compiling a history of the Yangpu district and we exchanged sources, scans and tips on good books. I was excited about her project; it was in the same spirit as mine. It loved knowing another lunatic in Shanghai, someone who'd bike all the way through the scruffy lanes to look for forgotten temples, who'd study something small and obscure out of intellectual curiosity and the stuborn wish to give justice to the place one loves. Her exctiment about my work envigorated me. She gave me opportunities to share my project – Shanghai Old Town book – with others. She urged me to complete it and we were planning to hold a celebration.

I still cannot believe she's gone. Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I see someone in flowing white linens and my heart skips a beat.

Tags: architecture, china, im memoriam, photo, shanghai

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