Artistic landscape

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-20 07:59
Yom Chonggyab from Qinghai province in an art workshop in Pingnan, Fujian province. [Photo by Xing Wen/China Daily]

An art project in rural Fujian province, which aims to transform a sleepy town into a creative hub, is drawing young people from the cities, Xing Wen reports.

Two years ago, a 19-year-old sheepherder from Qinghai province in the country's northwest, laid down his crook and traveled all the way to East China's Fujian province, to pick up a paintbrush and pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

The destination for Yom Chonggyab's first trip out of his hometown, Tongde county, which has a large Tibetan population, was Antai Art City in Shuangxi town in Fujian's Pingnan county, where he enrolled in a project that gave him free access to painting materials and art classes.

"I used to spend most of my days tending to my family's sheep grazing in the hills," recalls Yom Chonggyab. "Now I go out and sketch in the nearby villages during the day, and I spend my evenings learning to paint at the art center."

He says he couldn't really picture his future before he came to Fujian, but since his arrival he has developed a bold new plan-to set up a studio with friends in the near future.

Two weeks previously, one of his portraits of a Tibetan child sold for 2,500 yuan ($390) online. And thanks to the art center's policies, Yom Chonggyab was only required to pay back enough money to cover the cost of the oil colors and canvas he used for the painting.

Similar art spaces of varying sizes found in other parts of Pingnan are participating in a government-backed initiative that began in 2015 to promote charity art classes as a way to stimulate the cultural and creative industries in the area. Initially aimed at benefiting local farmers, impoverished people and vulnerable groups in Pingnan, the project soon attracted many visitors from outside the county, including unemployed youngsters like Yom Chonggyab, as it offers young people the chance to play a part in the rejuvenation of the region while providing a refreshing alternative to fast-paced urban life.

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