Sanyi, a small town in Miaoli County, is renowned for wood carvings in Taiwan and has held its own annual wood-sculpture festival for years. What makes the festival different this year, however, is that it features a collection of wooden musical instruments from all over the world and tries to incorporate 16 international and local music groups into this fun activity. The festival formally began yesterday and will run until Aug. 29.
The festival's major venue is located at the West Lake Resortopia (
Art curator Casper Tsai (
One thing that deserves mentioning is that 56 of the musical instruments in this exhibit come from 39 countries and belong to a part of the private collections of one person. Sui Hao-ping (
Among all of the participating artists in the exhibit, the wood artworks by the late Chiu Hua-hai (
For one thing, Chiu's creations sprang from his own close observation of each object in the countryside. Chiu would spend days conducting surveillance on his target object and refused to do carvings in any hasty way. As Wang Chi-yuan (
The artwork was purchased right away by a Japanese private collector as soon as it was completed. Nevertheless, the blood and sweat that Chiu contributed to every piece have become legend in Sanyi, which has kept reminding local young artists to always prepare themselves well before applying their carving knives.
The scope of Chiu's creations was very broad. He dealt with woodcarving as well as bronze sculpture, just like his much more well-known classmate, Ju Ming. Some of his marvelous bronze creations in the shapes of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals are now displayed along a tree-canopied trail on one of the hills of the West Lake Resortopia. All these bronze cartoon-like figures are a bit short of human size, but the facial expression of each animal gives the viewers a very clever and pleasant feeling.
The woodcarving industry in Sanyi has been undergoing a difficult period for quite sometime, due to the drastic fall in export trade. One estimate has indicated that the number of wood sculptors in the town has dropped to a little more than 100 in recent years, which may be an indication that young people are turning away from this trade. The problem has prompted local artists to pose the question of how to transform the traditional woodcarving into a more contemporary means of artistic creation. The answer to this question may not be easy, but the time is obviously running out for the woodcarving artists in Taiwan.
What: The International Sanyi Wood Sculpture Festival 2004
When: Through Aug. 29
Where: Sanyi, Miaoli County