Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Driftwood fest draws international artists

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

A work by visiting Peruvian artist Martin Salazar, who will be participating in the Hualien International Aboriginal Driftwood Symposium.

PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLERY VENUS

Starting tomorrow, the 2003 Hualien International Aboriginal Driftwood Symposium will kick off with an exhibition of driftwood sculptures by six local Aboriginal sculptors and three international artists. This will be the centerpiece of an event that aims to showcase all kinds of Aboriginal craftwork including textiles, pottery and basket weaving.

The Aboriginal element of the event was much emphasized by Chuang San-hsiu (莊三修), head of the Aboriginal Administration of the Hualien County Government, a major mover behind the creation of this regional event aimed at bringing more tourism to Hualien and to raise the standing of Aborigines of the area.

According to Chuang, driftwood has a special relationship to Hualien. Much of the wood is washed down from high forests in the Central Mountain Range, and after short but violent journeys from the mountain slopes above 3,000m, the wood finds itself scattered about the coast of Hualien, where it has long served as a material for artistically inclined locals. This art form is being given government recognition with the current show, which aims to install the driftwood sculptures as a permanent part of the park and recreation area being developed on the land previously occupied by the Hualien Prison, which the current administration hopes to turn into a much needed green space in downtown Hualien.

This 2,700-ping space has been abandoned for the last 20 years, and only now is it being developed. Chuang said he hoped that it could be turned into a culturally valuable part of the city, rather than becoming yet another neglected playground area.

The local driftwood artists come from the Amis and Atayal tribes, while the three overseas artists are Martin Salazar from Peru, Reymond Dupuis from Canada and Caoimhghin O'Fraithile from Ireland.

The festival's opening ceremony will take place today at 7:30pm and activities will kick off tomorrow, with the exhibition running until Aug. 24. The Festival will also include a series of documentary films by Aboriginal filmmakers, demonstrations of local craft work and the inevitable smorgasbord of Aboriginal food.

The Hualien Prison is located at 408 Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City (花蓮市中山路408).

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