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Camera takes in canal towns
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China's old canal towns are endlessly fascinating and photographer Deke Erh has sifted through his archives of past decades to present black-and-white visions of tranquillity.

A nostalgic look at China's charming canal towns, their waters swept by willows and crossed by ancient bridges, is presented by photographer Deke Erh who captures a bygone life of serenity.

"Through this 'affectionate glance' at the canal towns, the people and their living style, I hope viewers will think again about our tradition," says Erh.

For decades, photographer Deke Erh has been capturing the bygone life of serenity through these black-andwhite photos of water towns in the regions south of the Yangtze River. (photo: from Shanghai Daily)

His exhibit "Chinese Style," featuring 100 black-and-white photos of water towns in the regions south of the Yangtze River, is underway at his gallery on Taikang Road through February.

The old people chatting in a tea house, a family busy in a bean curd workshop, the man reading in a bell tower are all faithfully recorded.

The quiet towns of narrow alleys and crumbling walls are both bypassed by progress and catching up with the times. Erh has been training his lens on these towns for decades to preserve their history and culture.

"Many call me a nostalgia person, because I am always capturing those things that fade away from modern sight," Erh says. "Perhaps in my blood I am, as history is not written in a day. There are too many moments that need to be recorded, whether in the past or at present."

Noted for photographing old houses in Shanghai, today Erh often takes his camera to go much "deeper" and "further." He travels to remote spots in China and is tracing the Silk Road to Europe.

"These canals towns offer me a temporary shelter to hide away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai," he says. "I feel myself immediately soothed when walking in these alleys and seeing those pleased faces. There is a kind of unspoken charisma that draws me there time after time."

Date: February 1-28, 10am-4pm
Venue: Deke Erh Art Center, Bldg 2, 210 Taikang Rd
Tel: 8621-6415-0675

(Shanghai Daily February 1, 2008)

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