Exhibited first for over 6 months at 6789 Gallery at The Place, Tainan (Taiwan) and then at New Mills Festival, Derbyshire (UK) “Embracing the Invisible’ is an exhibition created by a collective of artists working through Charnwood Arts – Artslink Taiwan, an international project through the People Making Places programme. The exhibition presents work in a range of media including video, illustration, drawing, photography and calligraphy, depicting the connectivity of pepe through the collective effort of celebration.
Curated by Kevin Ryan and Natalie Chabaud, the focus for the exhibition comes from the Welcome Royal Lord Festival which takes place every three years in Donggang Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan. Comprising opulent processions, rituals and the burning of a large ornate boat, this eight day festival encompasses many aspects of Taiwanese culture. Most of the artists involved in the exhibition have visited the festival and two of the artists originate from the Donggang township.
Participating artists are: Kevin Ryan, Natalie Chabaud, Yun Ching Liao, Yu Ting Chen, Yi Yang, Paul Gent and James Chantry.
The expanded ‘Embracing the Invisible’ exhibition in New Mills intended to convey the spiritual, social and ceremonial dimensions of the festival by vicariously immersing viewers in the pageantry and pace of activities in Donggang. Through a mixture of poetry, painting, drawing, calligraphy, film, photography and digital media, viewers start to understand the broader hidden stories including, the three year build up period between each festival, the origins of the festival, the many skilled people involved and the sense of community that the festival nurtures.
It is important to remember that the festival emerged as a reaction to cataclysmic events in the lives of the people of the region including fishing boats being lost at sea and other natural disasters such as earthquakes and plagues. The festival has become a way of collectively seeking providence of revered spirits or gods, blessings on the town for future peace, health and prosperity. This aspect and its evolution in the modern day is explored through documentary photographs and exquisite drawings in the exhibition. At its heart, the exhibition, like the festival, encourages connecting people both creatively and geographically to promote understanding and harmony.
A related book exploring the Welcome Royal Lord Festival by Kevin Ryan and Yun Ching Liao can be seen at: https://issuu.com/charnwoodarts/docs/royal_lord_festival_
Photographs from the festival can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/71297673@N00/collections/72157684119983373/