Wellington Chinese New Year Festival: Exploring The Chinese Zodiac Through Art

Press Release – Asia New Zealand Foundation

Organisers of Wellington’s Chinese New Year Festival (13-14 February 2021) have added an exciting new component to the 2021 festival. From 1 February the public will be treated to the Chinese New Year Zodiac Art Trail, an installation of specially commissioned artworks by locally and internationally based artists around Wellington’s CBD.

Yin-Ju Chen, work in progress for Pig zodiac sign 2021, Chinese New Year Festival Zodiac Art Trail 2021, courtesy the artist.

Supported by Asia New Zealand and Wellington City Council, the Chinese New Year Zodiac Art Trail will feature 12 artworks across discoverable sites in Wellington’s CBD and waterfront. Activations by local performing artists will also be developed at selected sites to further increase the exposure and the profile of contemporary Aotearoan and Asian art.

Linda Lim, Programme Director and Asian Events Trust (AET) Chair says, “The festival has built a strong cross-cultural following over the past 20 years, and this project provides an opportunity to further extend audiences. We can’t wait to see the artworks created by the artists come to life, and offer a fresh way for people to experience Wellington city and engage with Chinese New Year celebrations”.

In collaboration with the artists and local sites, AET have curated a trail that encompasses diverse mediums and artistic practice. The self-guided tour includes artworks by local Chinese brush painter Stan Chan, whose Ox will appear in the Courtenay Place Park Lightbox Exhibition. Titled Ho Sun Nian, the exhibition is a collaboration with visual artist Kerry Ann Lee and brings together their unique artistry and perspectives on Chinese New Year celebrations. Courtenay Place not only holds significance for the Chinese community with many of Wellington’s first Chinese restaurants established there, but carries a strong connection to the festival as the site for the very first Chinese New Year Festival held in Wellington in 2002.

Installed adjacent to Te Papa and Waitangi Park will be a vinyl print of Guy Ngan’s Dragon Five. Guy Ngan (OBE) was a second-generation Chinese-New Zealander, whose bold work crossed cultural and social boundaries using a visual language that was unmistakably his own.

Liz Ngan, daughter of Guy and guardian of his artistic legacy, says, “As a family we feel proud and honoured that Guy’s works continue to be enjoyed by so many people and are still contributing to Wellington’s cultural life. To Guy, art was a living thing. Just as he found inspiration in his culture and the art he studied and admired; he would be pleased that his own art might inspire others in their creativity”.

Taiwan-based artist Yin-Ju Chen will create a work that depicts the Zodiac sign of the Pig on the facade of Taranaki Street’sthe House of Dumplings, and the ex- Hong Kong Cafe. Researching ancient mythologies, Chen’s work is derived from a Han-dynasty Chinese text, , Shan Hai Jing, or Classic of Mountains and Seas, a compilation of fantastical geography and beasts. Using a graphic bold style akin to a woodcut, Chen’s own versions of two pig-beasts are situated within their own mythic landscape.

The Trail will also feature works by artists Hong Kong-based Yuk King Tan; Dunedin-based Daniel Belton and Simon Kaan, Christchurch-based Kim Lowe; Auckland-based Jade Townsend and Wellington-based Tien Wei Hee, John Lake, Moniek Schrijer, and Benjamin Buchanan.

All artists will draw on their unique experiences through artist residencies in Aotearoa New Zealand and in China, reflecting them through their works in the Chinese New Year Zodiac Art Trail.

Natasha Petkovic-Jeremic, Manager City Arts and Events, Wellington City Council says, “We are pleased to support Asian Event Trust’s vision to bring diverse cultural ideas and narratives into Wellington’s public spaces, and know that the strength and experience of the artists involved will create a new, intriguing experience of walking through our city”.

For the Zodiac Art Trail map and details on the featured artists and artworks visit chinesenewyear.co.nz

CHINESE NEW YEAR ZODIAC ART TRAIL
1 – 28 February 2021
Various locations around Wellington CBD & waterfront

CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL 2021
13-14 February, Wellington

Visit www.chinesenewyear.co.nz or follow Chinese New Year Festival on Facebook for events and updates.

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