Image by/Llun gan Mary Lloyd Jones

Celebrating The Red Dragon

China 2009

Three leading artists from Wales visited China in March 2009 as part of the ‘Celebrating the Red Dragon’ initiative, supported by Wales Arts International (WAI) and British Council. The Welsh artists selected were Iwan Bala, Mary Lloyd Jones and Christine Mills.

‘Celebrating the Red Dragon’ was a follow up to the ‘In Search of the Red Dragon’ project, supported by WAI and British Council, where eight emerging visual artists from China were selected from leading universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, to come to Wales in 2008 for a month-long residency at institutions and centres across the country.

The artists were: Lan Jian, Chen Jiao, Hou Lidan, Chuang Wang, Liu Yin, Chen Wei, Liu Fan and Yin Shuangyi.

The artists experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity as they visited Wales for residencies at Trinity College in Carmarthen, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, and UWIC School of Art and Design, Cardiff. An exhibition of their work was held during Wales Week in Chongqing in March 2008 which focussed on how they imagined Wales to be before they arrived at the beginning of April 2008.

Inspired by their experiences in Wales, the artists then produced visual artworks when they returned to China, which were exhibited in March 2009 at the Three Gorges Museum in Chongqing, The Hexi Gallery in Guangzhou, The Southbank Arts Centre in Shanghai and The Wall Gallery in Beijing.

Exhibiting in a parallel exhibition were the three Welsh artists who also gave talks and workshops on their work. Iwan Bala lectured and gave workshops in Chonqing, Mary Lloyd Jones in Guangzhou and Christine Mills in Beijing.

Mary Lloyd Jones, said:

"Visiting the city of Guangzhou in China was an unforgettable experience and an inspiration. It is so important for a small country such as Wales to develop international relationships, in order to develop our culture with confidence.

" The students of Guangzhou had great interest in learning of Wales’ special culture and language, and were keen to follow courses at our Universities."

Christine Mills, added:

"I am extremely grateful for the wonderful opportunity to visit a country such as China. I am very anxious to develop the work that I created there and I think there is tremendous potential to build on the new relationships."

The exhibitions formed an important part of a series of cultural exchange programmes, supported by the Welsh Assembly Government, British Council and WAI.

Iwan Bala, who facilitated in the ‘In Search of the Red Dragon’ project and travelled to China as part of ‘Celebrating the Red Dragon’, describes his experience:

"For me the experience was an eye-opener and was very interesting. Until one meets people in their own habitat and has a feeling for their culture (from food to art, to politics), it is difficult to comprehend a different culture. By means of the welcome and the friendship in China, I had a new insight into our relationship, and more than anything into our likeness."

Both ‘In Search Of the Red Dragon’ and ‘Celebrating the Red Dragon’ were funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, British Council and WAI. The aim was to bring both an artistic benefit to the artists and to develop the potential for a long-term cultural and artistic relationship between partners in China and Wales.

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