Jane Ingram Allen
Made In Taiwan
Jan. 9 –
Host Organization: National Museum
of Marine Biology and Aquarium
2 Houwan Rd, Checheng, Pingtung, 944, Taiwan
Web site: http://www.nmmba.gov.tw
We have arrived at the Pingtung
Aquarium. It was an interesting trip as the flight to Hangchun was cancelled
due to high winds. We flew to Kaohsiung and took a bus to the Aquarium.
The scenery along the ocean was very beautiful.
Once we arrived we had some
lunch and then went to the bus station, no not to get on another bus,
but to install Jane's site maps. The station has an art gallery and Jane's
works were installed in the middle of the gallery as the walls have photographs
of the area by another artist. We had lots of help with the installation
and then went with one of the volunteer's to her home to have dinner with
her and some of her friends. Afterward we came back to the very nice apartment
that the Aquarium has provided. Our stay here looks to be getting off
to a great start with lots of help and meeting wonderful people.
We are located during this two weeks at a one of the most beautiful places
in Taiwan. This morning the clouds had blown away, and you could look
across about 20 km of blue ocean water to the land on the other side of
the cove where the Aquarium is located. Looking to the left we can
see the mountain peeks coming down to the sea. On our second day in Pingtung
we attended the opening of the Jane's exhibit at the bus station art gallery.
Many county and city officials came to the opening and gave brief welcoming
presentations. This program was followed by a speech from Jane thanking
many people for their generous support of her "Made in Taiwan"
project. She also talked with many reporters afterwards about her work.
Following the opening reception we went to Kenting National Park visitor's
center in search of plant books. We did find one that gives the
scientific name of the plants from this area of southern Taiwan, and the
Today we spent time collecting the plants to be used for paper making.
It appears that this southern end of Taiwan has many plants that may make
paper. By the time we got back we had seven plants. These included the
acacia tree and the schefflera. Jane and Tim began to prepare three plants
to soak. It is great to have all of these volunteers to help with the
picking, and there will be more to help prepare the plants, do the cooking,
washing and beating of all the plant fibers we find in Pingtung area.
Some volunteers from the community college in Hung-chuen who are doing
natural dyeing with plants went with us to help look for possible papermaking
plants. We went first to Spring Farm Nature Park to gather
some plants and then to Kenting National Park Recreation Area to talk
with the plant expert Dr. Wang Hsiang Hua, Director of the Forest Research
Institute at Kenting. We are trying to get new and different plants
that will make paper in each area, so at the end of the whole project
we hope to have research about many plants of Taiwan that can be used
to make paper.
Today we had many volunteers who helped with cutting, cooking and beating
the plant materials. We were able to get three cooked, two of them beaten
and made small samples of paper. One of the ones we tried was acacia tree
bark, and it made a rich brown colored paper. The volunteers were very
excited about what could be done with the materials. Also, it was the
first day for open studio and more than 25 people dropped by to see what
was happening and watch Jane demonstrate papermaking. We also had our
first experience of riding on a motor scoter. Tim drove while Jane tried
to hang on the back. She is very reluctant to ride again because her legs
are too long but maybe will get used to it!
We decided to work in the morning making paper and preparing more of
the plants of Pingtung area and then go out during the afternoon to see
more of the Hangchun and Kenting National Park area. Jane worked with
the key volunteer, Tiffany, to plan the day and then we started cooking
plants that had been soaking overnight. We were also able to beat
a couple of plants that were cooked from the previous day. All together
we have 12 possible plants to test for paper making quality. One of the
plants is seaweed. It appears to not have fibers that will form paper.
After lunch we visited the white sand beach and Jane poured some paper
on the sand. We will be back tomorrow to pick it up. As we drove I spotted
what appeared to be grain on the road. It turned out to be sorghum that
was being separated from the chaff by cars driving over it. We had seen
picture of this in Kinmen but we find it happening here.... We also visited
some of the most scenic parts of Kenting National Park, the south west
ocean view area. This had the rock call a "cat's head" as it
looks like such an animal. You be the judge, the picture is included below.
There is also a rare picture of me with Jane; I'm more comfortable behind
the camera. From there we went to a small fish market and then on to the
Sisal Memorial Exhibit. Sisal was a major crop in Hangchun area, and until
nylon was invented it was used to make howsere for ships and other rope
products. It grows everywhere and was destructive to the primal forest
that was cut to plant Sisal. Although the plant continues to grow everywhere,
it is no longer a dominant industry. The Park also housed some Formosan
Deer next to the Memorial. We returned to the Aquarium to start cooking
the onion skins to see if they will make paper.
We seem to have set a pattern where we work in the morning and then go
out after lunch to see the area. It is quite beautiful, particularly Kenting
National Park. We did go out to pick up the paper Jane had poured
yesterday on the white sand beach. Someone had stepped on the edge, but
as a whole it was in good shape. It will be added to one of Jane's site
maps to be done for Pingtung area. We went to the most Southern tip of
Taiwan and saw the light house that marks this point. We then went up
the east coast that has a great rocky coastline with occasional beaches.
We followed a route that took us around the Southern part of Kenting National
Park and returned to Hangchun. There we looked at the city gates and selected
the North gate for Jane to put up her paper and get the impressions in
the paper for her site maps. On the way back to the Aquarium, we stopped
to take a picture of a circular sign that is surrounded by bamboo scaffolding.
Bamboo seems to be used for most everything. We also took pictures of
the roadside businesses that are selling onions. This is an area that
grows almost all of the onions for Taiwan, and some are shipped as far
as the US. When we got back, we installed four of Jane's site maps in
the lobby of the research side of the aquarium. Jane had the help of David
Chen, Chief of Education, who has managed our stay in Pingtung.
Tomorrow is the first day of the papermaking workshop.
The papermaking workshop is going well. There are more than 25 active
and interested students. Jane started the workshop with an introduction
of herself and asked others to do the same. Many of those attending are
teachers and volunteers. She then showed a Power Point presentation about
making paper and how her work reflects some of the many ways to use papermaking
for art and then demonstrated papermaking. The students helped with the
process of preparing pulp from the plants--from cutting up leaves, stripping
bark, cooking and then beating the fibers to actually making the
paper. They created some very good and creative pieces of paper.
After the workshop, we went to dinner at an excellent fish restaurant
with our volunteer guide Tiffany. We then saw Kenting at night - more
of a carnival environment with night market food booths and game booths.
The last day of the workshop went very well. The students produced some
exciting artwork, and they were very enthusiastic about what the learned
about papermaking and the use of that paper. Overall, we have worked with
12 different fibers in Pingtung County. We still have the sisal plant
fibers to beat and test. Sisal takes a long time to cook! lThe onion
skins made paper with an interesting texture and color, but it has very
short fibers. The students gave a gift of some books on the area, a calendar
and a beautiful "Chinese" jacket for Jane. After the workshop,
we went to Tiffany's house and had dinner with six Mormon missionaries
stationed here in Hangchun. We returned home to the weekly duty of washing
our clothes. Fortunately, the apartment complex where we are staying at
the Pingtung Aquarium has a washer and dryer.
The day was spent making paper in preparation for Jane's closing exhibit
on Thursday featuring at least one Pingtung site map. Jane always likes
to have paper that comes from the local plants plus paper that represents
some aspect of the community. Hengchun has an old wall and four gates
that we were told are about 80% restored. Near the wall is a small park
that has a contoured map of the wall and it's gates. Jane placed her handmade
paper from plants of the area to dry on the map. She had a few watchers
while doing this, and one was an older man who had worked in the sisal
plant and knew about the plants for papermaking too. With a sunny day
and a blustery wind, the paper dries quickly. We then went to a very large
temple in the village of Checheng near the Aquarium. This temple had some
metal drain covers in the plaza that had the name of the community. Jane
placed her paper there. We also discovered relief images of lions that
were on posts that prevented people from parking on the sidewalks. Jane
used one of these, and it made a great paper lion relief. Speaking of
lions, the temple had the largest entrance lions that we have seen - at
least three meters long and two meters high. Because they are normally
placed very near a building it is impossible to get a rear view of entrance
lions but not in this case. It revealed to us the ease with which the
Chinese address the body and functions of the body. It was was very apparent
which lion was male and which was female. Upon entering the temple, which
opens up four stories high - Jane pointed out an electronic sign that
scrolled information. We both thought that this was another interesting
cultural difference. Here people have no apprehension of blending
modern technology into a religious setting. With our western "eyes"
we found it unusual as it tended to clash with what we would think of
as a sacred place. There was even one of the posters about Jane's "Made
in Taiwan" project in Pingtung County displayed at the temple. Upon
returning to the aquarium studio, Jane spent a couple of hours making
paper from the local plants, one of which was sisal. It took eight hours
to cook and when beaten and put through the blender made one of the best
papers found here.
Today was largely focused on starting the two Pingtung site maps. Jane
has an opening on Thursday so there is not much time to do anything except
work. Tim had some time to see the aquarium. It is quite striking with
its fresh and salt water exhibits. By Friday there will be time to look
at the exhibits and other things around the area.
Today, Jane focused all of her attention on painting the two Pingtung
Site Maps. She was able to do two sides of one and one side of the other.
She will complete the last side of the second site map tomorrow before
the opening of the final exhibition at 3 PM. We also had open studio today,
and thanks to Tiffany, Jane did not have to break from painting to demonstrate
papermaking. Tiffany did a very good job touring the groups through and
explaining about the plants, having the children beat some of the fibers
and demonstrating papermaking. The visitors also learned more about Jane's
process by watching her work and having Tiffany translate. Jane also went
to look at the Aquarium, as she is planning to paint fish on the
last side to be done.
This is our last day of Jane's "Taiwan Site Map" Project in
Pingtung County. The closing exhibit was held this afternoon at the bus
station gallery in the city of Hungchen.. Jane had to work long hours
these last two days to get ready for the exhibit. These exhibits are normally
held on Friday, but this one was scheduled one day early because originally
we were to leave on Friday. This morning Jane painted the fish side of
the Kenting Site Map. She needed pictures of fish, so sent Tim into the
Aquarium to take some photos of the most striking fish.. After lunch we
rode the scooter back to the residency to change clothes for the gallery
reception. We then went to the gallery and installed the two site
maps and arranged the works made by community participants. The closing
event included presentations of many thank you notes and small gifts from
the students who participated in the workshop. Jane thanked everyone for
being such good students and for making the time in Pingtung County so
enjoyable, particularly Tiffany who has been there every day. The
day ended with a great seafood dinner at a local restaurant with staff
and volunteers from the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium.
Return to Made In Taiwan home page
January 20, 2005
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