As work progresses on the LYC Archive, [See previous blog posts], we are continuing to uncover and rediscover some of the hidden gems that have been buried in cardboard boxes, holdalls and envelopes on the shelves of our storage space. In the past few weeks the library has appointed a new curator who will be responsible for the archive, Janette Martin, and an intern will begin a new project entitled The Li Yuan-chia Collection a Museological Conundrum shortly.
Our most recent discovery came out of a rather unprepossessing envelope, in which were hidden 7 beautiful, brightly coloured cut-outs of Chinese acrobats. A note on the back of the envelope shows that they were sent to Li by Barbara Mee. The assumption is that these were to be used as inspiration by children during visits and art sessions held in the children’s art room at the LYC Museum. These were community art sessions that Li held frequently at the Museum and can be seen as a precursor to modern thinking on inclusivity and widening participation within art galleries and museums.
The discovery of these images is rather incongruous as the majority of art work contained in the collection is work which Li himself has produced and these gorgeous images are an exception. These jewel-coloured cut-outs are from a long tradition of Chinese paper art work, which can be geographically divided into southern and northern style. In the past people pasted paper cut-outs onto windows during times of celebration. The subjects and themes of the cut-outs can be very diverse, many are about rural life featuring farming, flowers and animals, but quite often they depict myths and legends. The cut-outs are supposed to bring good luck and are often given as presents as an aesthetic way to express people’s wishes and gratitude.
To celebrate the year of the Monkey and Chinese New year we are showing some of our favourite things from the LYC Collection in a close-up on Saturday 30th January 2016. For further details please see the Library What’s on Guide.
Karen Jacques & Clare Baker