Curator's Choice: Stephanie Marsden of the Oriental Museum on a print from the East

Stephanie Marsden interviewed by Ben Miller | 04 July 2011
An image of a black and white print line drawing of people celebrating
Curator's Choice: In her own Words... Stephanie Marsden, of the Diverse Impressions show at Durham’s Oriental Museum, takes a trip to the East by choosing a print from Harbin…

“It is a difficult choice out of the prints, which are all very unique and beautiful. My favourite, however, has to be Summer Nights Harbin, by the artist He Weimin.

I love this print because at first glance it looks like a giant puzzle and it is difficult to see what it is trying to capture.

But when you stand back you start to pick out all the details and see that it is a scene of a large festival in the city of Harbin, where a crowd of people have gathered to celebrate the culture and life of their city.

It is a moving and thought-provoking piece. It captures the energy and spirit of the people who live in Harbin and still have in their memories the turbulent times of their city.

Harbin coped with the flood of Harbin in 1998, which was a victory for the people and the army who saved the city from the damage that this natural event may have caused.

It is, therefore, a commemorative and happy print which illustrates the bravery and unity of the people to come together in the face of disaster for the benefit of their community.

This modern scene best illustrates contemporary Chinese culture and the way of life in a prominent urban location in the North-East of China.

The city of Harbin is most famous for its annual ice sculpture festival which attracts tourist from all over the world. But during the summer – the season this print shows – the inhabitants of Harbin usually enjoy relaxing and cooling down in the squares of the city (such as the one depicted) to share each other’s company after dinner.

This print is a definite must-see as it represents our main theme of diversity, which runs through the whole exhibition, and it should invite people to reflect on their own identity and diversity within their community and lives.

Harbin is also a twin city of Sunderland, and He Weimin is currently living and working in Oxford.”

  • Diverse Impressions: Contemporary Chinese Woodcut Prints runs at the Oriental Museum in Durham until September 18 2011.
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