08-01-2006 13:02

In Dai Ailian's home where she spent her last 20 years, two things stand out among all the artwork - one is a group of paintings drawn by her ex-husband Ye Qianyu and the other is a sculpture done by her first love Willie Soukop. Behind this artwork are two of the most important men in Madam Dai Ailian's life.

Dai Ailian met the noted painter Ye Qianyu in Hong Kong in 1940 when they took part in benefit performances to raise funds for the Hong Kong-based China Defense League. The two young artists soon fell in love. After half a month, Madam Soong Ching Ling presided over their wedding ceremony. This marriage lasted for only 10 years, which was a golden period for the two artists' careers. During the rest of their lives, Dai Ailian and Ye Qianyu remained close friends. But they didn't get together again as many expected. One of the reasons might have been another man's special existence in Dai Ailian's mind and soul. He was British sculptor Willi Soukop.

In the 1930s, when Dai Ailian was studying at London's Jooss-Leeder Dance School, her father went bankrupt. During the summer of 1939, she met Willi Soukop and worked as a part-time model for two weeks. A subtle feeling grew in the hearts of the two youngsters, but Willi was already engaged. The romance story would never get closure until Dai Ailian got in touch with Willi in 1979. In 1994, Willi was ill. With the permission of Willi's children, Dai Ailian took care of Willi in London and accompanied him for the last two years of his life. "He is my soul mate", said Madam Dai in "Up-Close" studio in 2004.

In 1995, Willi and Ye Qianyu passed away one after the other. Dai Ailian once said, that was the year she lost the two most important men in her life.

When being asked whether she felt lonely sometimes, Madam Dai Ailian replied, "Life is interesting with its ups and downs. I am always occupied, so I have no time to feel lonely." In this edition, Madam Dai's family, friends and colleagues will tell you more about Madam Dai in their eyes...

— Written by Chai Haoran