Culture, creativity from China and the world

The 12th Hangzhou Cultural and Creative Industry Expo brought together the traditional with the high-tech and futuristic.
Wu Huixin

A tea ceremony is performed by a staff member from China National Tea Museum at the 12th Hangzhou Cultural and Creative Industry Expo. The expo has become one of the four largest cultural and creative trade shows in China. 

Cultural products and creative designs from China and abroad lured endless streams of visitors and industry insiders to the 12th Hangzhou Cultural and Creative Industry Expo.

The five-day exhibition was held at the Baima Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center from September 19 to 23. 

First held in 2007, the expo has become one of the four largest cultural and creative trade shows in China. The others are in Beijing, Shenzhen of Guangdong Province and Yiwu of Zhejiang Province.

This year, the main venue covered 70,000 square meters with eight themed exhibition spaces: the national pavilion, creative life, cultural technology, crafts, art innovation, industrial integration, Taiwan lifestyle and the creative fair.

It was the first time Britain set up a pavilion, covering 1,000 square meters and displaying myriad British products, including combs, socks, umbrellas, tea, linen, toys and tweed.

Exhibitors from Nottingham Trent University and the Birmingham City School of Jewellery showcased creative designs from the two cities. 

An exhibition area focusing on the Silk Road showcased crafts from countries of the “Belt and Road Initiative” region. Japanese lacquered wares, Russian traditional wooden toys, Ukrainian glass crafts, handmade Nepali vessels, gems from Sri Lanka, amber accessories from Lithuania, Bulgarian weaved knickknacks and Turkish paintings showcased the cultural diversity along the ancient land and maritime paths.

Syrian bags and bookmarks knitted by refugees were also on sale. A non-governmental organization, Common Future, organized the charity bazaar to encourage young people to care for refugees. The proceeds will be used to help Syrian women and children.

Exhibitors from the National Museum of China, Prince Kung’s Mansion, Zhejiang Museum and the Xiling Seal Society presented their latest creations. Souvenirs, stationery, knickknacks, accessories and costumes that were inspired by their collection were popular with visitors.

The National Museum of China exhibited at the expo for the second time. Last year, its 3D technology attracted visitors by printing a white lamp. This year, it brought a series of creative products that were designed according to a precious Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) painting, “Da Guan Yuan,” which portrayed five scenes from one of China’s classic novels “Dream of the Red Chamber.”

Wu Huixin

 A bridal sedan chair carved with auspicious pictures and embedded with paintings on glass

Local governments from Hangzhou’s districts and counties saw the event as an important opportunity to promote their cultural and creative industries.

Xiacheng District highlighted its garment industry through a fashion show, while Jianggan District showed off irregularly shaped mirrors to create an aquatic ambience corresponding to its long-history of Qiantang River culture.

Other cities and provinces also took the event as a stage showing local craftsmanship.

Ningbo City in eastern Zhejiang Province exhibited its dowry culture, characterized by red lacquer ware.

One exhibit was a bridal sedan chair, carved with auspicious pictures and embedded with paintings on glass. The whole surface is painted with glittering lacquer, with tassels hanging from the top.

Guizhou Province lured visitors through performance. Miao ethnic minority performers clad in ornate Miao-style silver accessories and embroidered costumes played traditional musical instruments and sang local ballads.

Taiwan exhibits included local handicrafts, porcelain, pottery, knickknacks and crafts.

Dark-glazed Tianmu wares from the Tiangan Kiln in Hsinchu, Taiwan, stood out among the light colored porcelain on display. They feature a strong emphasis on subtle effects such as the patterns of “hare’s fur,” “oil spot” and “partridge feather” that are caused randomly as excessive iron in the glaze is forced out during firing.

“It is my second time at the expo. Last year, my pottery was popular with visitors,” said Zhang Jingxiu, the owner of the kiln. 

“Hangzhou boasts long history of ceramic making. It is an ideal city for promoting my products on the Chinese mainland.”

The Zhang family is famous not only for its pottery, but also for its tea. Zhang brought Tung Ting oolong tea from the family’s plantation that was established in 1938.

Creative cultural products from Zhejiang Museum

As well as the traditional products, there were also plenty of high-tech exhibits.

Tonglu County government invited Hangzhou FXG Co to film a documentary using virtual reality technology, telling the story of the county’s intangible heritage of paper cut.

“A lot of people are realizing that some traditional things have been left behind. Now we use new technology and media to share old culture and traditions,” said Nikk Mitchell, CEO of the company.

“VR is a panoramic video. When filming craftsmanship, it can also capture environment. It is a better way to preserve culture for future generations.”

Seventy-two-year-old Tian Jinlian is one of the craftsmen featured in the documentary. She was also invited to showcase paper-cut techniques in the expo.

“I don’t know much about technology,” Tian said. “I just feel like I am on the spot when I wear the VR glasses. This innovative media could attract young people to learn about our traditions.”

The expo has evolved into a platform for developing creative industry and promote economic transformation. It is also considered a platform for artisans and organizations to showcase handicrafts and creative designs.

Hangzhou’s cultural and creative industry has seen year-on-year growth of over 15 percent since 2008.

Last year, the added value of the industry reached 30.41 billion yuan (US$ 4.45 billion) , accounting for 24.2 percent of GDP — the highest proportion of any province in the country.

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