Tang Chunfu: Promoting Chinese craft to the world
Editor's note: East China's Zhejiang province is renowned for its large international population. Aloft on the wings of China's reform and opening-up policy, a group of Zhejiang people have gone abroad to make a living since the 1970s. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the policy, the Zhejiang website (www.ezhejiang.gov.cn) is launching a series of stories about overseas Chinese who are originally from Zhejiang, as well as those who are active in the province's development. Stories courtesy of Zhejiang Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and Zheshang Magazine
Tang Chunfu, an artist from Taizhou, Zhejiang province, creates a wooden statue. [Photo/Zheshang Magazine]
Tang Chunfu is a well-known cultural figure in Australia because he and his students have created statues of Australia's 29 prime ministers and 45 governors of New South Wales, which are all displayed in a permanent memorial hall in Victoria Park in Sydney.
These statues are made with a time-honored Chinese craft technique which applies ramie and lacquer on the surface to make them resistant against weathering.
The technique was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2006. Tang, a native of Taizhou, East China's Zhejiang province, is the only inheritor of it.
He explained that in order to protect statues, a total of 48 steps need to be taken. Tang has worked out how to implement the technique after years of efforts and set strict standards for each step.
In addition to delving into the technique, Tang also devoted himself to promoting it worldwide.
In 1979, Tang founded the Tiantaishan Art Museum in his hometown. Due to the rapid rejuvenation of domestic culture, many people from across the country invited him to repair old statues and architecture.
Nine years later, the art museum joined hands with a Singaporean institute in founding a company in the Southeast Asian country, which opened a new door for Chinese crafts on the international stage.
Tang and his team created 50 wooden statues of Chinese emperors in 1989 and once exhibited, these artworks with strong Chinese characteristics caused a sensation in Singapore.
To date, Tang's artworks have been collected and displayed in 60-odd countries and regions, showcasing the technique from Zhejiang to a wide global audience.