2.10.-5.10.2020 at 71Duke street London
Breaks Through the COVID-19 Shadows, Themed Exhibition “Amazing China” held in London
As one of the themed programmes during London Craft Week (LCW), “Amazing China” opens on October 2nd on 71 Duke Street, a popular business area in London. The exhibition is hosted by National Base for International Cultural Trade (Shanghai), co-organized by Shanghai Art Collection Museum, in the full support of China National Tourist Office (CNTO) in London. This is the third year that the Base has participated in London Craft Week.
Four Exciting Online Activities
Because of the COVID-19, London Craft Week was postponed to this October which was usually held in May. The host of the Amazing China exhibition, National Base for International Cultural Trade (Shanghai) and the co-organizer, Shanghai Art Collection Museum, have achieved the curation and coordination in February and March when the pandemic was hitting hard in China. Then the team has overcame many challenges such as the sudden change of exhibition venue, soaring overseas logistics costs and limitations on traveling to the UK. Under such conditions, both the host and co-organizer of the exhibition still proactively took part in various events and pooled resources from all parties to launch a series of online marketing and promotion activities. Since May, the online marketing activities have been carried out on the bilingual social media channels of CNTO London “All under One Moon”, the “Virtual Preview” of LCW and the themed promotion event “To Craftsmanship” held by the Base via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat official account and LCW official website both in China and abroad. LCW specially featured the 24-hour global online video promotion project——“Create Day”, which will help Chinese craft makers to expand opportunities for works display and future cooperations, and further inspire people with good wishes for work and life. The Base has selected 15 videos that planned to be posted on the official website of “Create Day” on October 10th (Createday.org). Along with this event, the bilingual social media platforms of CNTO London and the official promotional platform of the Base will release more videos and photos of the makers, to enrich the online promotion.
Cultural poverty alleviation and mutual cultural exchange at home and abroad
“Amazing China” this year includes both exhibition on site and online events, with the curatorial thinking on “the beauty of art in daily life”. The exhibition displays more than 50 objects and video works of more than 30 craft makers and institutions from 12 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Fujian, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Hebei and Anhui. The objects include cloisonné enamel, lacquerware, Longquan celadon, Dehua white porcelain, Yixing purple clay teaware, Suzhou embroidery, silk tapestry, tin carving, bamboo carving, micro carving, paper art, Jingde creative ceramics, inside painting, basketry, drama painting, woodblock printing, pith painting,art and museum derivative gifts. The exhibition also showcases a mix of selected national and provincial intangible cultural heritage skills and video clips from ethnic minority groups in Yunnan and Sichuan, including embroidery, silver ornaments, lacquerware, paper cutting, tea-making, inkstone carving, etc. The Base explores the possible approach to alleviate poverty in Yunnan and Sichuan via promoting cultural products and seeks opportunities of international cooperation via the influence of this exhibition and international platforms of LCW and CNTO London.
The exhibition is also exploring the new direction of digital culture and tourism and digital cultural interactivities by presenting augmented reality works designed and developed by Shanghai 3D Film Co., Ltd. Five videos recording intangible cultural heritage crafting will be displayed in interaction with the visitors and other objects. This is an effort to effectively promote intangible cultural heritage with new technology and new media, and facilitate the exchange between Chinese and international craft makers.
In this exhibition, the Xiong Enamel is a typical example of cultural exchange and mutual learning at home and abroad. Enamel making techniques was introduced into China from the Mediterranean coast in the Southern Song Dynasty, and developed into the popular “cloisonné” in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Xiong Songtao, the inheritor of this intangible cultural heritage, applied the cloisonné to making watch faces. His exquisite and creative enamel watches represent the mutual exchange of crafts and mutual appreciation between China and overseas.
Inheritance and innovation of young craft makers
Events this year also focus on contemporary young craft makers and inheritors of intangible cultural heritage. While rooted in traditional culture, their works enrich the language of cultural heritage, expressing their ideas with international cultural language while refining traditional symbols. The Base aims to speak with the power of the young and encourage the young generation to inherit, innovate, promote and develop intangible cultural heritage by presenting Chinese traditional culture and contemporary craftworks on the LCW platforms facing the UK and European audiences.
Among these young craft makers, Kong Xiangxi uses classical cultural elements as decorative visual patterns on creative ceramics to create abstract shapes. Lei Jingyi specially created in 2 months a 4-meter long paper art work “The Journey of Chinese Plants” for this exhibition, showcasing 37 kinds of plants unique or native to China in paper fibre, as a homage to Zeng Xiaolian, the creator of the original painting, famous botanist, professor and painter. Qiao Mai is a representative inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage “Suzhou Taohuawu Woodblock Prints”, and while participating in public education activities, she designs and runs a the brand “Qiaomai Atelier” to promote cultural derivative products. Wang Jinpeng is the fifth generation inheritor of inside painting that was listed as the first batch of Chinese intangible cultural heritage, and he explores the research and publicity of inside painting techniques based on his learning and internship experience at Sotheby and Christie’s. As a new generation of purple clay teaware artist, Jiang Feier prefers making small pieces full of cultural tastes, which naturally reveals her enjoyment in life. Didi Wu combines her years of learning in Kyoto and London and uses rattan, kudzu and grass produced in Fuzhou’s local villages to weave, exploring spatial structure and cultural village stories with the long history plant basketry skills. Wu Weiping, while adopting the artistic concept from the China Academy of Art, blends the introverted spirit of traditional Chinese philosophy into Longquan Celadon to create a different texture. There are also young celadon craft makers, such as Lan Ningli who integrates Longquan techniques with artistic utensils in daily life, Cui Xianliang, a craft maker inspired by Chinese legends, and Fu Piaopiao, who uses Hui-style architecture as design elements.
The Base hopes that the exhibition can take Chinese craftworks as a bridge for cultural communication and exchange between China and other countries. During the COVID-19 period, craftworks can be used to warm people’s hearts and allow Chinese and British people to communicate and appreciate from each other. Meanwhile, the Base will continue with the theme of “Amazing China” and develop it as a branded cultural experience, facilitating international exchanges and cooperation via showcasing and promoting outstanding intangible cultural heritage works to European audiences.
“Amazing China” on 71 Duke Street in London Craft Week 2020 will open until October 5th.