Organised by the China Cultural Centre (Sydney), a series of traditional art performances and cultural workshops were conducted from 3rd to 7th February in conjunction with the Chinese Year New.
Held in both local schools and public area in Sydney CBD, the five-day event encompasses an eclectic variety of cultural activities, namely, Chuanbei Big Puppet show, Sichuan Face Changing performance, Lantern Making, Dough Modelling, Shadow Puppetry, Sugar Painting and New Year Picture Making.
“These events aim to showcase different aspects of Chinese traditional culture during the period of the Lunar New Year, with the hope of providing opportunities for the general public to obtain hands-on experience to Chinese New Year customs and culture,” said Mrs. Zhao Li, Director of the China Cultural Centre in Sydney.
With 170 participants from Mosman Church of England Preparatory School and Sydney Secondary School (Leichhardt Campus), workshop instructors exhibited exquisite skills in making an array of Chinese cultural items, and offered explanations and one-on-one instruction to guide local students with their hands-on experience.
Jiaming Chen, the Latern Making instructor reckoned that: “Chinese lantern is very much of a symbol of Chinese New Year, and I feel very proud of lantern making as it plays an essential role in inheriting and spreading Chinese culture.”
“Dough modeling is an important reflection of Chinese New Year Festival. These delicate artworks are welcomed in Chinese society as they represent the general public’s longing for abundance and wealth, and carry people’s prayers towards gods,” said Weijun Lai.
With the increasing popularity of Chinese New Year cerebrated around the globe, Shadow Puppetry artist Yi Pan considered Chinese not only a great treasure of China, but also for the rest of the world.
“I hope to recapture people’s awareness of traditional folk arts, sharing the unique Chinese New Year experience with people from different cultures”, Pan said.
Ended with abundant freshly made cultural items, the 2-hour cultural event indeed provided extraordinary experiences to students from both schools respectively.
“I took my students to participate in last year’s New Year events held by China Cultural Centre, and they very much enjoyed the learning content and atmosphere, and I believe they’ve had a meaningful and productive time this year as well,” said the leading teacher from Mosman Church of England Preparatory School.
From 4th to 6th, performances and workshops were also brought outside to the city centre to engage the general public, attracting crows of audiences to appreciate and interact.
Set in Customs House, China Town, as well as Kensington Street, the successful presentation of this year’s outdoor activities were hugely benefited from collaborations between the Centre and City of Sydney as well as Chippendale Creative Precinct.
With big statures, ingeniously designed model as well as the colourful masks, the puppet show and face changing performances enlivened the streets and sites with festivity and jollity, radiating the celebratory atmosphere within surrounding areas.
Highlighted by the calligraphy writing and face changing performances by real-people size puppets, audiences were captivated by the astounding manoeuvring skills from the artists, and eagerly approached to the prodigious puppet model afterwards.
“These performances require unique skills, and are all originated from Sichuan, China, this cultural stunts showcase the beauty and brilliance of Chinese local culture,” said one of the performing artists.
The liveliness of the event continued with the active participation in experiencing various workshops.
With fast, simple and fun making process, participants found themselves also deeply attracted to the sugar painting workshop because of the nice flavour the art work.
“Sugar painting originated from the Ming Dynasty, and it gradually evolved to become a type of folk art; today, sugar painting portrays a wide range of figures and patterns, and it is recognised as one of the most important festive activities during the Chinese New Year celebration”, said Qiang Zhang, a skilful sugar painting master.
On the other side of the street, instructor Rongqiang Zhang was demonstrating the creative process of New Year Painting, a special art form that represents liveliness, auspiciousness, happiness, and people’s desire for blessings in Chinese culture.
“The making of Jiajiang New Year Picture is a significant part of Chinese New Year as well as Chinese traditional culture”, said Zhang.
“I’m very impressed by these incredible works made by each artist, and I really like the fresh colour and the vivid portrait in the New Year Picture”, said a local participant.