Honduran artists hope for a little Yingge inspiration

FIRED UP::Under a two-year program, a Taiwanese team has been collaborating with Honduran pottery artists to improve the quality and uniqueness of their products

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, May 02, 2013 - Page 4

A group of Honduran pottery artists are set to visit Taiwan this year as part of a cooperative effort aimed at helping the Central American country foster a creative and culture-focused pottery industry, a center overseeing the project said yesterday.

The artists, from the town of Valle de Angeles, are scheduled to visit their counterparts in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yingge District (鶯歌) in September to learn about more advanced techniques in making pottery products, the Taipei-based Corporate Synergy Development Center said.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the center is carrying out a “one town, one product” project in Honduras.

Under the two-year program, which began in 2011, a team from the center has been working with pottery artists in Valle de Angeles, said center consultant Laurencio Chen, who is leading the project.

The aim of the program is to develop a niche industry in Honduras, with the focus on improving the firing of the pottery and instilling more local cultural characteristics in their products, Chen said.

Valle de Angeles residents have been making artworks from clay for decades, but the finished products were often fragile and homogenous, Chen said.

Ceramic coffee cups could become a specialty, especially as Honduras is a major coffee producer, he said.

Making products with an angel theme to reflect the name of the town, which means “valley of angels,” could be another innovation, he added.

Local artists are also encouraged to incorporate images and characteristics associated with Mayan culture in their pottery, as Honduras is one of the areas where the Mayan civilization originated, he said.

The “one town, one product” concept stems from Taiwan’s own experience.

Yingge has hundreds of pottery factories offering a range of products, from vases to teapots and tableware.

Yingge’s success was duplicated by the Corporate Synergy Development Center in many communities around Taiwan, Chen said.

Developing signature products in turn helped the communities attract more tourists, he added.

The Taiwan-Honduras project is the first foreign aid program offered to a diplomatic ally focusing on the development of a niche cultural and creative industry.