Lancaster University students have helped to uncover the secrets of a collection of rarely seen Chinese artefacts and figurines to create the ‘China Uncovered’ exhibition.
The students, David Bardsley, a third year English Literature and History student and Mengjia Lu, a Master degree student of Contemporary Arts Consultancy, completed an inventory of the items that Lancaster City museum had in storage, checking all materials and descriptions.
They then worked with Museum Manager Heather Dowler to create themes for the exhibition and grouped the items into those themes for display.
David researched and wrote text panels and Mengjia researched the objects and wrote labels for the objects.
Mengjia said: “The figures and costumes are totally amazing – vibrant colours, beautifully crafted and amazing textures.”
The highlights of the exhibition include some high quality porcelain produced during the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912) as well some finely detailed Chinese costumes on loan from Tullie House Museum, Carlisle.
Heather Dowler, Manager of Lancaster City Museum, said: “We are displaying 38 items from the City Museum collection. Of that number 11 are usually on permanent display. As far as I know the other items have either never been displayed, or at least not displayed for many years. I would say that following this process we know a lot more about the 11 that are usually on display than we did before.”
Visitors will learn the meaning of some of China’s famous symbols, such as the dragon and the Eight Immortals, who are a group of Chinese legendary figures, popular in Chinese culture.
The pieces in the Lancaster City Museum's collection all came from just two donors. Miss Kathleen Chilton donated her collection of oriental ceramics in 1968, which added to Miss F.G. Whalley’s bequest from 1933.
Heather said: “Through the generosity of these two individuals we have the opportunity to view and experience Chinese art without travelling further afield.”
David said: “Working on this exhibition has given me an insight into the working environment of an active museum and helped prepare me for my Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. I have also been able to learn about a culture which otherwise I may not have been able to study in depth.”
Mengjia added, “I have enjoyed helping to widen knowledge of Chinese culture abroad, and working alongside a British colleague helped improve my English language skills.”
The ‘China Uncovered’ exhibition at Lancaster City Museum, which is supported by Lancaster University Confucius Institute, will start on 5 March and end on 2 May.