Pastoral art festival adds cultural ethos to rural life

The 2nd Maogang Town Pastoral Art Festival took place in Huangqiao Village, Maogang Town of Songjiang District on October 23-24. More than 30 artists and art-related practitioners gathered in the Jiangnan water town around the head-stream of the Huangpu River and demonstrated to visitors how art can be assisted in rural cultural revitalization and in bridging culture and tourism industries.

Villagers danced and sang on a stage that was erected on golden paddy fields as a musician played a piano in paying tribute to the autumnal scenery. In a clearing with crisscross paths beyond, makeshift booths showcasing photography and calligraphy works or demonstrating plant dyeing and weaving skills were set up. Villagers and tourists sat around traditional Chinese square tables, watching the performances while chatting.

“The paddy fields and the land are stage for the artists. They dance, read poetry and sing right there,” said Ying Zhuang, curator of the pastoral art festival.

“We usually don’t have many chances to watch art exhibitions in downtown, but today the artists came to our home and demonstrated to us their exciting and delicate art skills,” said Jiang Qiqi, a Huangqiao Village resident.

“Rural life also needs nurturing from art and culture,” said Ying. “Quite a few urban dwellers are willing nowadays to visit a quiet and distant village, to see a world different from concrete skyscrapers. Among them are quite a few artists. Many artists I know are inquiring about whether there is a vacant house in a village which they can use as their art studio.”

“Traditional fishing and fruit picking activities cannot satisfy urban dwellers’ expectations of a village life now. How to invigorate rural life with art is something that the government needs to do more research on,” said Xing Song, deputy Party secretary of Maogang Town.