Saturday, January 17, 2009

Handwriting more than a work of art

Years of hard work and skill are behind every brush stroke made by Chinese calligrapher Jingzhi Zhu.

Ms Zhu, who also goes by the name Julie, will be demonstrating her art at the Chinese New Year Festival in Greenlane tomorrow.

The city-based artist started doing calligraphy in China when she was seven years old with her father’s encouragement.

"My father was my very first teacher, he loved it very much."

He taught her for a year, before sending her to a professional calligraphy class.

From there, she studied under several famous calligraphy artists in China.

"I made huge progress and entered many national and international competitions and won many gold and silver medals."

Her work has been exhibited overseas and she is about to have her first solo show at the Corban Estate Arts Centre in west Auckland, which opens on Thursday and runs until March 1.

Ms Zhu moved to New Zealand two years ago to study a master’s programme at Auckland University, where she also teaches Chinese language and hopes in the future to also teach English.

At first it was hard to integrate her love of calligraphy with her new life because many people don’t know what Chinese calligraphy is.

"These days, many young people don’t like it. They think it is really boring because you have to practise every day and many have lost interest.

"Luckily I found the New Zealand Chinese Calligraphers Association and joined."

Members meet once a month and exchange ideas about the way they practise calligraphy.

Ms Zhu’s work has been shown at the Aotea Centre as part of a group exhibition and last year she was offered the chance to demonstrate her art at the Chinese New Year Festival.

She translated people’s names into Chinese and wrote them in calligraphy or wrote blessing words like "longevity" and "lucky" on special red paper.

Her art was so popular, she ran out of red paper and her friends had to dash out and buy more.

This year she is stocking up on paper before tomorrow’s festival.

For the new year, she writes special couplets for people to hang on their doors, welcoming the year and the good luck it brings.

Ms Zhu is going to visit her family in China next week to write their couplets.

The festival also includes a dragon dance, a troupe of performers from Hebei in China, Chinese pop group Lulu and the Puppets, and demonstrations of various martial arts.

Organiser Kai Luey says up to 20,000 people are expected to attend the event, which has attractions for all ages.

The free festival will be held tomorrow at the ASB Showgrounds from 9.30am to 3.30pm

By JANIE SMITH - Central Leader | Friday, 16 January 2009.

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