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Sculptors Mould Changchun into International Event

Twenty four sculptors from around the world are working hard at individual projects to express themes like friendship and peace for the upcoming Changchun 2003 International Sculpture Conference in early September.

The public will be able to view their works at the same time at the World Sculpture Park in Changchun, capital city of northeast China's Jilin Province.

"Public sculpture is the focus of a city. The conference will not only promote the development of local sculpture, but also improve the city's look," said Changchun Mayor Zhu Yejing.

With the theme of "Friendship, Peace and Spring," the conference, the fifth since its initiation in 1997, drew the attention of many top artists globally. A total of 363 artists from 79 countries and regions have so far submitted 1,339 sculpture proposals.

"This time we're focussing on sculptors who did not participate in the previous conferences, so we can include works from all over the world,"said Liu Tianfu, vice-director of the Changchun Municipal Guiding Committee for Urban Sculpture Construction.

The artists have different styles and cultural backgrounds, but they all have their solid work ethic in common. The resulting 26 works will touch upon a wide range of topics.

"All this may breathe some fresh air into Chinese sculpture," said Liu.

"Most of the works are elegant, thought-provoking, either abstract or concrete, and are examples of expressionism or realism," said Yin Xiaofeng, a professor from Northeast Normal University.

Yin said Chinese artists could draw some inspiration from their foreign counterparts instead of confining themselves to traditional styles and ways of expression.

Ethiopian sculptor Getachew Yossef Hagoss said he thought mother was the most important theme for everybody. In his work, "Womb," he chose an abstract image of one woman and the exaggerated image of the womb to express his love and appreciation for motherhood.

"She gives birth to all of us. She is the symbol of love, peace and hope," he said.

Roger Thompson, a sculptor and professor from Kuranui college in New Zealand, has been considered one of the most efficient contributors, having started work right after the opening ceremony.

He has named his sculpture "Turangawaewae New Zealand." "'Turangawaewae' is a Maori word meaning the land we stand upon," Thompson explained.

One side of the sculpture features a basket made by the aboriginal Maori people, and some sailboats on the other side represent the arrival of immigrants. The work reflects the combining the Maori culture with the outside world.

"The overall message is that we share the same earth," said Thompson.

The local people have a chance to see the artists' works in progress. Wang Yuhan, a student from a local art school, went all the way from the other side of the city to take a closer look at the work of the foreign artists.

"I think different art forms share something in common. I can feel and learn something from them, even though my major is painting and dancing," Wang said.

"Outdoor sculpture is the soul of the city and enlivens the environment," said Yin Xiaofeng.

(China Daily August 8, 2003)

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