New lease on life for inheritors of Jiangnan heritage skills
More than 50 listed heritage skills of Yangtze River Delta cities comprise traditional-life scenery of Jiangnan – regions in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River – at an exhibition that opened on Wednesday.
The exhibition, "Jiangnan Sitting Room," at the Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Exposition features more than 250 artworks by 42 inheritors of heritage skills in Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
The artworks are on display in a Suzhou-style garden with a "four seasons" theme to showcase how heritage skills have gotten a new lease on life in modern times.
Cohosted by the Baoshan District government and Shanghai University, the exhibition is supported by the China National Arts Fund, which promotes heritage skills and protects them from vanishing.
Artworks employing 54 traditional techniques and materials, such as embroidery, weaving, papermaking and bamboo weaving, are on display. Innovative designs and ideas are blended with traditional skills to make them more adaptable to modern life.
A group of traditional Chinese musical instruments, a national-level heritage skill, were made under the cooperation of the Shanghai No.1 Folk Musical Instrument Company, Shanghai Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
A traditional kite named "Blue Dragon" involves kite-making skills that come from Nantong in Jiangsu Province, and a whistle on the kite gives off a pleasing sound while flying in the sky.
Bamboo silk weaving, a provincial-level heritage skill rooted in Zhejiang, is applied to a traditional shelf jointly designed by a Chinese designer and the French luxury brand Hermes.
An orchestra featuring traditional Chinese musical instruments performs themed songs of the 24 solar terms on the sideline of the exhibition, while tea-art specialists wearing hanfu – traditional Han outfits – present the tea ceremony of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The exhibition is free and runs through the end of September. It will then travel to museums in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui to promote the integrated cultural development of the Yangtze River Delta region, according to Zhang Lili, operating director of the Shanghai Public Art Cooperation Center and the exhibition's curator.