Life in Cheng Long village in rural Yunlin County, Taiwan, is usually uneventful and much the same as it has been for centuries. However, adding international artists from such countries as France, India, USA and other parts of Taiwan as well as volunteers from other cities and regions of Taiwan gave a new flavor to the small community and lots of excitement and cultural experiences for the community and the school children. The artists shared with the school children information about their country and the environmental issues in their homeland. The artists also made a presentation for the whole community at the welcome dinner held in front of Cheng Long Temple where food was served for all.
The artists and volunteers enjoyed great meals together prepared for them by a local mother. Dinner was served each evening outdoors with everyone gathering around family style to enjoy fresh seafood, meat and vegetables prepared in traditional Chinese and Taiwanese style. Lunch was at the school with the children, and everyone prepared their own breakfast at one of the three houses where the artists and volunteers were staying. We also had coffee and bread available for breakfast for the Western artists! Artists and volunteers lived in three village houses that were rented for the installation period from local people. Each artist had a bedroom and a shared kitchen and bathrooms at each house. Artists and volunteers also had bicycles available to get around the wetlands, the village and also to tour nearby villages.
Some of the more colorful and interesting Cheng Long village people included the “illustrated man” who had tattoos covering most of his body and many very cute babies and grandmothers. Some of the local village people could speak little English so communication was with smiles and gestures.
The artists also enjoyed visiting the sites in nearby cities and towns. One memorable experience was going to a nearby town for the Matsu Festival, a religious festival that happens each year at this time when the Goddess Matsu comes to visit the local temple. It was a huge celebration with many people on the streets, lots of food, costumes, music and many firecrackers! Another great experience was when we went to the beach to gather materials and visited a local artist’s studio and gallery.
Many enjoyable evenings were spent together just sitting around talking about work and life. It was a great opportunity for cultural exchange and fellowship and even some singing and dancing together. The artists in 2010 all worked very hard each day, but everyone also had a great time. Lasting friendships were formed and we all became like one big happy family!
For the 2011 Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project we are planning more activities for the artists and the community and look forward to welcoming a new group of artists and volunteers to Cheng Long! Be sure to get your proposal sent in by the deadline of February 11. See the links here for information in English and Chinese about what to send and complete details about the project for 2011.