Jane Ingram Allen
Made In Taiwan
Lanyu Island,
Taitung County
May 30 – June 19, 2005

Host Organization:  Lanyu Primary School
Lanyu Island, Taitung County

Contact:  Teacher Huang (art teacher) and English teacher (Nike)
Email : deep721blue@yahoo.com.tw
School phone :(089)731576

flying into Lanyu Islandkid posingWe have arrived in Lanyu and what a ride getting here. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a flight as much as I did on this small aircraft that flew into the island. It was a 14 seater with a pilot and co-pilot - no flight attendant. We got buckled up and took off down the runway in Taitung. There was no door between the passengers and the cockpit. I was close enough to see most of what was going on in the cockpit. The landing was a thrill with very close proximity to the large rocks on the port side of the aircraft. Part of the runway is built out from the island a short distance. It is short, and we came in fast and smoothly. It was about a 40 minute flight I really enjoyed. I can't say as much for Jane. It did remind me of landing on an aircraft carrier in a COD but without the arresting wire jolt.

kids picking plantsTraditional boats on the beachWe were met by the teachers from the Lanyu Primary School and taken to the school where we were staying in one of the teacher apartments.. We didn't have time to settle in because we were off to pick plants from various locations around the island. Lanyu is a small island, and you can drive around it at a leisurely pace of 40 kpm in about 45 minutes. However, it is big enough to give the illusion of never driving in a circle. There are steep mountains that come right down to the ocean in many places. The 3000 inhabitants, most aboriginal Tao originally from the Philippines, live in small villages along the ocean. The island is not self sufficient and relies on goods and services from the main island. There are three primary schools with the Lanyu Primary having 6 grades with a total of 66 students. The first grade is the largest with 14 students. I believe the smallest is the 5th grade with 6 students. Mr. Huang's 3rd grade class went with us to pick plants. They were really into getting the right plants. While picking plants we made the journey all the way around the island. We also confirmed what we had been told - no 7-11s. This is a first in our travels around Taiwan. 

Flying fish for dinnerinstalling the exhibitOne of the things that is common on the island are goats. They wonder freely grazing whereever they can. We also discovered pigs - not wild but domesticated ones, wandering the streets. We got back and started installing the exhibit in the library. This is an interesting space with a domed ceiling and no way to hang from the concrete. We had to run string from one column to another to give us something to hang the sight maps from without damaging the ceiling. We were only able to hang 6 six maps, but it was impressive.

One of the nice things about Lanyu Primary School is that there were a number of very good cooks. Mr. Huang is exceptional. We suggested that he open a restauraunt over the summer for all of the tourists. It would make a lot of money!. We also enjoyed the meals cooked by other teachers. The last night that we were in Lanyu we did go out to eat at a local restaurant.   For the first night's dinner we ate flying fish that had been dried in the traditional way.  They tasted very good.

front of Lanyu Primary Schooloutdoor studioOn the next day, with the help of the students Jane began to prepare the plants for papermaking. We also wandered around the school grounds and along the road that goes around the island. The sceenary is beautiful with the waves crashing against the rocky shoreline. There are no beaches. Where there was access to the ocean, there were the traditional Tao boats. When someone sees these boats, one things of Lanyu.

Since we were in Lanyu for only one week, we needed to get things done very quickly. The children helped with most of the peeling of the bark and beating the fiber. They also learned how to make coast linepaper. Each class came to learn. Jane taught them the western method because it was easier, and they could work together putting the paper on objects. They really enjoyed pressing the paper by being human presses. That afternoon Jane worked with some of the teachers who came to the Lanyu Primary from the two other elementary schools. They got to make paper and would have some of it displayed in the library.

students making paperThe next day some of the students took their dried paper and worked with other teachers to made paper models of the traditional Lanyu boats. They did an exceptional job in forming and coloring each of the boats. Jane taught the Asian method of papermaking to all the students and each created their own unique handmade paper designs from the pulps made with Lanyu plants.   These handmape paper creations would be put on display at the closing reception.  Jane continued to work on her site map of Lanyu that would also be displayed in the library with the other maps and the community works.

students on pressing boardOn Friday the final full day for us to be in Lanyu, Jane prepared the area on the floor of the library below the dome for installing the handmade paper boats that the children had made. She had the students gather stones that she used to create the shape of Lanyu and with the help of the children colored the floor around the island shape blue with colored chalk..  The boats were then put out in the "water" around the island. It was quite impressive. She also installed her Lanyu site map hanging from the ceiling, and we were ready for the closing exhibit. Many of the parents of the children came to the closing. They not only got to see the art and the boats the children and Jane had made, but we also presented a PowerPoint presentation showing what we had been doing at Lanyu Primary School for a week.

father looking at boatsWe really enjoyed our stay on Lanyu. The teachers are very dedicated, and the students seem to be happy and caring. This was our last stop on our 13 places journey throughout Taiwan. It was a lovely close to a great adventure. One follow up on Lanyu. We received a great email from Teacher Huang about Jane being in residence there. He said it was so important for the children to see a real artist at work. For many throughout the island of Taiwan, seeing an artists at work was a new experience, and Jane is so pleased to have been able to share her love of paper with others.two first graders






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(updated on June 28, 2005 )

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