‘It’s a platform for dialogue’: Manchester cultural centre improves UK and China’s business links with art work

A Manchester cultural centre is working to create a Northern Powerhouse by improving business links between the UK and China.

Curators at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art (CFCCA) say that the facility is helping to bridge cultural gaps between the two countries.

The centre is currently celebrating its 30-year anniversary by displaying the work of 30 contemporary Chinese artists.

“We have gone from strength to strength, putting Manchester and our organisation on the map,” the CFCCA’s Daniel Jarvis told MM.

“CFCCA presents a platform for an exchanging of dialogue between our two countries.

“Working with curators on the ground in China, artists from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan we also nurture relationships with Chinese organisations such as the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.

“To have the UK’s only funded organisation dedicated to contemporary Chinese art based in Manchester is a fantastic asset to the city.”

The CFCCA began in 1986 as the Chinese View ’86 festival.

Originally organised by Hong Kong artist Amy Lai, the festival aimed to address the underrepresentation of Chinese artists in the UK.

The centre’s first large-scale exhibition was 1992’s Beyond the Chinese Takeaway, a collection of work by second and third British Chinese artists.

Art allows a candid insight into often complex politics, the legacy of the 1997 transfer of British to Chinese rule in Hong Kong created a generation of new artists.

“That shifting identity in Hong Kong made for a lot of interesting art work, the CFCCA provides a platform for artists to express and reflect on such contemporary global issues,” added Daniel.

Hong Kong officials visiting the centre said that exhibitions like those at the CFCCA are important to help boost international studies and business.

“These sorts of exchanges and collaborations are very meaningful, because from there we can consider other business activities,” said Priscilla To, Director-General of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade office.

“Manchester is the Northern Powerhouse, one of the key cities in the whole project and it will only be getting more important after this phase.

“In my last visit I went to visit many creative industries in MediaCity, I think that is one area that we can collaborate on.”

She added there is keen interest on both sides for such development, with areas such as Hong Kong looking to attract Manchester companies to the ‘gateway’ of the Asian markets.

“These sorts of exchanges can promote even more between our two cultures such as having programmes for exchanges with universities here, and encouraging youth organizations or NGOs to organise exchanges or study tours between the two places,” she said.

The CFCCA recently hosted digitized depictions of traditionally painted propaganda posters of Chairman Mao by Gordon Cheung, a reflection of the changes occurring in the once rigid system.

The CFCCA has also hosted works by artists such as Liu Xiaodong which drew attention to normally unacknowledged difficulties faced by both China and the UK.

Liu Xiaodong’s depiction of the Three Gorges Dam draws attention to the millions of people internally displaced within China today by rapid industrialization.

The CFCCA’s 30-year anniversary exhibition continues until July with free entry.

For more information, click here.

Image courtesy of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art, via YouTube, with thanks.

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