A Chinese Handling box for Temple Newsam House, Leeds

Artist Suna Xie creates a Chinese handling box

The artist Suna Xie writes about what inspired her when creating a Chinese handling box for Temple Newsam House in Leeds.

 

"The box design was inspired by the hand painted Chinese wallpaper in the Blue Drawing Room of Temple Newsam House, on to which Isabella Lady Hertford pasted 28 American birds in the early 19th century. I was astonished at how well the two elements blended together. The West and East seemed to live together on the walls harmoniously and peacefully.


The function of the design on the box is intended to be educational. The box itself contains Chinese artefacts to encourage children to engage and interact with Chinese culture. The images on the box are a photomontage of collected images, composed of elements from both British and Chinese culture. The artwork was digitally produced and transferred to the box. The idea is for children to try to identify the elements within the pictures. I have used similar elements from both cultures, such as landmarks, famous people, animals and cultural icons from modern life, to draw comparisons between the East and West. As most of the British elements, and a few of the Chinese elements, should be familiar to British children, they will be able to directly engage with the artwork, and will hopefully be curious enough about the unfamiliar elements, to learn something new about both Cultures.


The image on the front of the box is composed of landmarks from China and Britain.
The image on the back of the box is composed of familiar cultural icons from China and Britain.


The image on the left hand side of the box is composed of representations of dragons from Chinese and British culture. In Chinese culture the dragon is a male symbol.


The image on the right hand side of the box is composed of representations of phoenixes from Chinese and British culture. In Chinese culture the phoenix is a female symbol.


The image on the top of the box is composed of animals from Chinese and British culture. The Chinese elements are the twelve animals used in the Chinese zodiac; the British elements are animals that can be found living in Britain today.


The image on the inside of the box is the Chinese character for ‘Fu’. This character is used by Chinese people to put on their doors during the spring festival, to bring good luck and happiness. Hopefully the “Fu” character will bring good luck to the box and the museum."


If you would like your school or a community group to use the box during a visit to Temple Newsam House or the Leeds Discovery Centre please contact Shelley Dring or telephone 0113 390 1082.




 
Document icon Learning article provided by: Temple Newsam House, Leeds Museums and Galleries | 
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