Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Chinshan sculpts a new image

The sleepy northern township is in the midst of an international sculpture festival that it hopes will draw

By Derek Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wang Wen-chi inside his giant shrimp trap.

PHOTO: DEREK LEE, TAIPEI TIMES

The sleepy township of Chinshan (金山), located on Taiwan's northern coast about 50 minutes' drive from Taipei, seems to have woken from a century of slumber, suddenly deciding to host an International Landscape Sculpture Exhibition (國際景觀雕塑展) at the Chinshan Youth Activity Center (金山青年活動中心) in Huangkang (磺港), a lovely little fishing village. It is being supported by several local art and business groups, which hope the event will bring greater media and tourist attention to this township.

During the 16-day show, which will run until June 1, sculptors will create works that will become a permanent part of the local scene, adorning parks, traffic islands and street corners. By the end of this week, six of the projects should be unveiled.

Chinshan's flurry of artistic activity was inspired by Hualien's (花蓮縣) success with its biennial International Stone Sculpture Festival launched in 1997, from which it reaped rich rewards. The works have gradually been relocated from the Stone Sculpture Museum to adorn various scenic points in the county dubbed "the land of stone."

According to Shih Chien-chih (施建志), curator of the Juming Museum (朱銘美術館), Chinshan township originally invited eight artists, but because of travel restrictions due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an American and an Italian artist were unable to visit. Nevertheless, the exhibition is lucky to have Roger Gaudreau from Canada and Frederic Oudry from France, in addition to four local sculptors. A number of handicraft artists are on the exhibition site as well to offer daily DIY classes, including leather-carving, mud brick-carving, pottery and metal ornament making to visitors and students.

Gaudreau is working on a rhinoceros made from stainless steel rods and locally found pebbles, a work that is part of a series called The Migration of Rhinos. He has been keen on exploring the relationship between art and nature most of his professional life. He often takes advantage of the local forests, which provides him with endless mediums for his artistic creations. Placed in various natural settings, Gaudreau aims to induce spiritual dialogues between nature and art.

Gaudreau has a deep affection for the rhinoceros and has created many of them by utilizing metal and natural materials. His rhino sculptures can be found in Canada, Italy, France, Germany and now Taiwan. His purpose is straightforward. By singling out this endangered species as the motif for his work, he asks "What are we doing with the planet?" "With drastic depletion of natural resources, the planet is getting sicker everyday," Gaudreau emphasized.

By contrast, Oudry, from France, is more of a public art enthusiast. He is devising a mosaic for a hospital still under construction in Chinshan. What makes this work distinctive is that each mosaic tile has the image of a hospital worker printed on it. He said: "In France, photos on ceramics usually remind people of cemeteries or of death. But, I'll try to do something different to prove that this is not always the case."

This mosaic at the hospital's the main entrance will serve as a constant reminder of the blood and sweat contributed by people who, because of Oudry's work, are no longer faceless.

Furthermore, of the four local artists, Dawn Chan-ping's (董振平) inventive idea of sculpturing a knight with his horse is, perhaps, the most amusing of the works in this festival. Dawn is very fond of the simple and placid way of life in this town. He reasons that most of the Taiwanese fishermen are very persistent in pursuing their profession, in good times and in bad, a trait of character that can be represented by a knight in armor.

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