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Woodworking artisan strengthens cultural ties

By Cheng Yuezhu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-05-23 07:40
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A toast is raised at the 2024 award ceremony of Hand of Wisdom, a Sino-French handicraft exchange program, held on April 20. CHINA DAILY

Hua Yong wins recognition with Sino-French crafts exchange program award, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

After graduating from Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts and Design, Hua Yong arrived in Nantong, Jiangsu province, in 2008 to follow her passion for traditional Chinese handicrafts by studying woodworking.

There, she learned hands-on skills from veteran artisans and visited collectors of wooden furniture, delving deeper into the structures of antique pieces and the wisdom behind traditional Chinese woodworking craftsmanship.

"For ancient Chinese, objects were considered carriers of wisdom. Because the users would constantly interact with them, the selection of materials followed a certain pattern, allowing the objects to exhibit vitality over time," Hua says.

"Wood, for example, can develop patina over time, resulting in a fine, smooth texture when it's touched, which can instantly bring people and objects closer to each other."

The 41-year-old artisan now owns a woodworking brand that aims to bring traditional Chinese furniture back as a part of contemporary life — a quiet companion for everyday use, with philosophical connotations that nurture people from afar.

Her efforts were recognized on April 20 with the Hand of Wisdom prize, a Sino-French crafts exchange program.

Founded in 2019 by the Golden Phoenix Science and Art Fund, and Yishu 8 Association, an art platform that boosts Sino-French cultural exchange, and sponsored by French cognac brand Hennessy since 2020, the program annually highlights a genre of craftsmanship and selects a Chinese artisan as the winner.

Following the previous years' themes of felt, metal and lacquer, this year's program highlighted woodworking. The nomination and selection process began in January, with 19 nominated artists and three short-listed by a jury comprised of Chinese and French art experts and professors.

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