Global skills on show at handcraft expo
An exhibition featuring traditional skills from overseas and China's ethnic groups will open on Friday in Shanghai with the aim of helping them survive in the modern era.
Art employing over 80 traditional techniques and materials such as embroidery, weaving, paper-making and bamboo will be on show at the 5th Shanghai International Hobby & Craft Expo. The annual expo initiated in the city from 2015 will run through December 1 at the Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center in the Pudong New Area.
There will be exhibitors from Spain, Germany, Japan, France, Austria and the UK along with Chinese masters to showcase their skills and teach visitors.
Many international handcraft giant such as the 500-year-old German sewing tools brand PRYM, German paint manufacturer Marabu, which dates back some 160 years ago, and US creative clay brand Polyform have been invited to display their latest products.
Thousands of fashion products melding inherited traditional skills with modern designs will be on show. Many of the exhibits were jointly designed by handcraft masters, mostly from China's remote mountainous regions, and fashion designers from around the world.
The expo is being organized by the Shanghai Public Art Cooperation Center, handcraft website Yesby.me and the Shanghai Creative Designer Association.
"The expo aims to bring the traditional skills to the daily life of the public and create an innovative development platform for the ancient skills," said Zhang Lili, a professor with Shanghai University’s Academy of Fine Arts and operating director with the center.
More than 60 heritage skills masters from China's Miao, Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Hani, Buyi and Mongolian ethnic groups in northwest and southwest China will display over 50 traditional skills at the expo. Most come from impoverished mountainous regions and have few chances to present their talent, Zhang said.
Their products will on display and for sale and organizers will introduce them to wholesalers or design institutes at the expo, she added.
Hu Entong, director of the intangible cultural heritage department of the Shanghai Administration of Culture and Tourism, said the expo will showcase "how culture and heritage skills can help in China's ongoing poverty relief campaign."
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has launched a training program where people with inherited traditional skills are sent to study in over 100 domestic universities for a month. There, they learn how to adapt ancient techniques to make modern products that will keep the heritage alive.
Five local universities, including the Shanghai University’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, have taken part in the project, Hu said. The academy alone has trained over 600 heritage handcraft masters and developed hundreds of products over the past three years
"Thanks to the program, some heritage skills masters have been able to help their village get rid of poverty by bringing their authentic works to the market," he added.
Two forums on the sidelines of the expo will invite industry leaders and designers to share opinions on how ancient skills can be used to craft modern products and better help in the poverty relief campaign.
The organizers will also invite Shanghai's time-honored brands such as the Hero Pen and Harbin Food Co to cooperate with several heritage skills masters to help promote both the skills and the brands, Zhang said.