Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 02:57

Li Jinyuan sketches Taiwan

After several months going through the long and frustrating process of applications, Sichuanese painter Li Jinyuan was finally able to step onto Taiwanese soil. Retired professor at the Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, he thought he should take advantage of his new free time and gaily accepted French painter Bendu’s invitation to discover Taiwan. Li Jinyuan arrived in Taipei on April 24th , right during the “plum rain season”. The strait’s climate is often very unstable and can affect landings and takeoffs but the North-East monsoon had already switched directions and the southern winds were preceding the Kurashio current, meaning the shoals of flying fishes would soon be able to swim up the North coast.

On arrival in Taipei, Li Jinyuan was not very familiar with the Island’s geography, so his host decided to take him on a tour of the Island. They started at Danshui wharf on the North of the capital and Jinshan township on the Northern Coast. He then embarked on a twenty day trip which led him to Nantou County in central Taiwan; to Alishan forest in Jiayi county (West Coast), before switching to the maritime East Coast - from Hualien city to Nan-Fang-Ao Port, Orchid Island, off the coast of Taidong.

Li Jinyuan brought back a considerable amount of sketches, paintings and drawings from his trip around Taiwan. With his black felt-tip pen, he would capture real-life scenes, of which he was the occasional spectator: a man reading his newspaper in a fast-food restaurant, a couple drinking their tea in silence at the terrace of a café, a fisherman repairing his net while two women next to him play with a stray dog… Sometimes, he would use pastels adding a touch of colour and animating the drawing. Li Jinyuan also experimented with felt-tip pen techniques to display the textures and the movements of the millenia-old trees of Alishan forest and Jade Mountain: here, the painter plays with the spaces left blank by the heavy black line, whilst the crooked branches and trunks seem firmly root into the emptiness beyond the page…

Whether you know Taiwan already or not, let painter Li Jinyuan be your guide through this pictorial adventure, telling you his version of Taiwan’s story.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009 20:41

Meet Painter Li Jinyuan

In this short video, Benoit Vermander introduces his friend Li Jinyuan.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009 19:32

One 'swimming pool' for Yangjuan village

You may complain that your internet access is too slow. In Taiwan, where I reside, 5785 kms of optical broadband networks will be completed by the end of the year. However, while we’ll enjoy easier and faster surfing of the global village, the small village of Yangjuan in Southwest China is in need of 3 kms of pipes for a water network to allow easier access to this critical, life-giving commodity.

Since the school’s inauguration in 2000, cleaner water has been increasingly at the disposal of villagers. The school well did provide water to 300 students all year long but recently it seems seriously in need of maintenance, as it runs regularly dry during winter. During the summer of 2004 the first communal well was dug in the lower part of the village. However, after a few months, it met the same fate as the well of the school. People learned from that failure, therefore some of them dig home wells during the dry season, aware also that underground water is healthier than water directly taken from the river. In 2005 and 2007, on the villagers initiative, we canalized water from two sources in the hills above their houses. These small scale distribution networks were a real relief for approximately 60 households. Once again this encountered the same problem: from October to May water scarcely runs from the faucets, when it runs at all! I visited the village again last May and now they’re asking for bigger scale water works that could meet the needs of all the villagers.

Every day 5000 children in the world die from water related diseases.
At the end of 2006, the United Nations Development Program was asking the international community “to ensure that every person has access to at least 20 liters of clean water each day to meet basic needs” as “a minimum requirement for respecting the right to water—and that is a minimum target for governments.”

When we put into perspective the Millennium Development Goals: “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” with the needs of Yangjuan and the possibilities to improve the situation there, we feel sad and compelled to take immediate action. “The urgency of achieving the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation cannot be overstated. Even if the targets are achieved, there will still be more than 800 million people without water and 1.8 billion people without sanitation in 2015”. This extract from “Human Development Report 2006 Beyond scarcity: Power poverty and the global water crisis” leaves a chilling picture for the future.

On a micro level, there is hope for this small village in the mountains of Sichuan Province, crippled with all sort of difficulties. Ten years ago, the villagers had no consciousness of the need for clean water. Following the failure of the communal well, the villagers became aware of the necessity of clean water and started experimenting inside their own compounds. It was the villagers themselves who came up with the idea of bringing water from the hills behind the village. It was then easy convince them that it was better to canalized water from the source, than to take water directly from the brook. That was not a big deal to complete the job. Since we were providing the pipes and materials needed to build the water tank everybody was motivated to work together. Now, following these trials, that are far from complete successes, villagers are dreaming of a bigger scale project that could satisfy all their water needs for good. The informal network of ’friends of Yangjuan’, created and put into action using the power of the Internet, is coming together to solve any new, bigger problems they may meet in order to succeed in this huge undertaking. Who will be the responsible leader able to coordinate the efforts on a local level? Where will they find supplementary funds? How can they ensure that water taken from the brook will be drinkable at the faucet? How to solve all these problems without increasing the financial burden of the villagers once installation is completed?

In the village of Yangjuan, people leave, sometimes far away, to find jobs. Those who stay behind are the eldest and the youngest. Being forced to fetch water daily is a heavy burden when added to farming and schooling.

Water is not only the problem of Yangjuan as shown by a 2006 report from the WWF: a combination of climate change, drought and loss of wetlands that store water, along with poorly thought out water infrastructure and resource mismanagement, is making this crisis truly global.

Even in Taiwan, where tap water penetration rate hits 90.7 percent, one mountainous county only manages 45 percent.
It is estimated that the network of one water distribution company in the UK, leaks enough water daily to fill more than 300 Olympic size swimming pools! By western standards, such an amount could supply water for 2 800 000 homes…while for Yangjuan, one swimming pool would be more than enough.

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