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China's porcelain capital establishes art zone for young artists
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  • http://english.dbw.cn  2016-12-12 15:07:33
     

    Ceramic works sold at the fair at the Taoxichuan cultural park [Photo: Global Times]

    Made from components mixed with traditional porcelain clay, a 3D printed replica Sphinx was on sale in a workshop in Taoxichuan, a renovated culture park in the porcelain capital of China - Jingdezhen, East China's Jiangxi Province.

    Far faster than traditional handcraft techniques, the statue only took five hours to make, while simpler articles may need only three hours. The process is also far less complicated. Even non-professionals can make their own items with the technology.

    These types of workshops and studios, owned by domestic and foreign artists and designers, are common in Taoxichuan, previously the site of 10 thriving ceramic factories built 60 years ago. However, after drastic drops in profits during the 1990s, employees were laid off as the plants shut down.

    Staying vintage

    In 2014, the factories were renovated into shops and galleries as part of a project to turn the area into an art zone.

    "When the renovation project began, we decided to reserve the area's old buildings and articles as much as we could. They bore witness to and present what happened in the past," Xiong Honghua - deputy general manager of the Jingdezhen Ceramic Culture Tourism Group, a state-owned enterprise and developer of Taoxichuan - told the Global Times on Tuesday.

    This past can be seen everywhere in the art zone. At the entrance to the zone, a cafe has been set up in a factory. One of the cafe's red brick walls is still painted with a slogan from the 1960s: "Hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought."

    Apart from old buildings, new uses have been found for old infrastructure, such as pipes that have been turned into chairs and an engine that has been converted into a reception desk in the exhibition center.

    A chimney with a painted slogan that reads "Every Communist Party member should know the saying 'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun'" also attracts many visitors.

    In the zone

    To give young artists a chance to show off their works, an art fair is held at Taoxichuan every Saturday. Around 500 booths are available for artists to present and sell their art. As of November, more than 3,000 artists had applied for booths since the weekly fair opened in April.

    Xia Yiqun, a 22-year-old senior studying sculpture at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (JCI), is among the many artists looking for opportunities at the fair.

    "I was one of the first to come to the fair. This is the place where my career and dreams began," Xia told the Global Times on December 6.

    After presenting their works to the fair organizer, young art students and artists are assigned a booth for an entire month. While artistic talent helps an artist get in the door, their dedication is what keeps them at the fair. If an artist misses a fair without reason, they will be fined 50 yuan ($7), while two absences disqualify them from getting a booth at the fair.

    "For a craftsman, if your works are not good enough or you are not taking your work seriously, then you will find yourself going out of business," said Xia.

    According to the sellers at the fair, operating an outdoor booth at Taoxichuan is no simple task. You run the risk of others plagiarizing your work, face increased competition and have to deal with unexpected situations such as rainy weather.

    "It rained almost every Saturday night during April and May, but it was worth all the trouble when visitors carrying umbrellas came and asked about my work," said Xia.

    Creating a brand

    While Taoxichuan is not the only place that holds weekly fairs in Jingdezhen, it is one of the most attractive for young artists.

    "Unlike the other places that charge around 50 yuan a day, we don't have to pay to present our work at Taoxichuan. That means a lot for young artists just starting out," one artist at the fair told the Global Times. This sentiment was echoed by many of the artists at the fair.

    "The visitors come from different cultures and backgrounds and the art atmosphere far outweighs the commercial feeling," Li Junlong, a 27-year-old businessmen at the fair, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

    Li graduated from Nanyang Institute of Technology, a university in Central China's Henan Province, in 2013. He is just one of many who have come to Taoxichuan from other areas of China.

    They call themselves jingpiao, or "Jingdezhen drifters," people who came to Jingdezhen to fulfill their dreams of being an artist.

    Apart from the pure art atmosphere, Taoxichuan is a major cultural project supported by the local government. Over 450 million yuan has been invested in Taoxichuan so far, turning it into an art community bustling with workshops, cultural centers, galleries, restaurants and hotels."The government has made Taoxichuan the city's brand, and this brings in high quality clients and artists," said Li.

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    Author:    Source:CRI    Editor:Yang Fan

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