HK artist seeks to reenergize traditional culture
Published: Jan 12, 2023 11:34 PM
Photo: Liu Caiyu/Global Times

Photo: Liu Caiyu/Global Times

Dorophy Tang who had been living in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province has finally returned to her home in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Thursday after the border reopened following three-year suspension.

Tang was set on commuting between the mainland and HKSAR to promote her Guochao designs that featured chubby baby characters with interpretations of Chinese culture, talking with designers in and out of Hong Kong and preparing more exhibitions between the two sides.

Guochao is also known as Chinese trends or "China chic."

"Through chubby baby characters that look friendly and are popular among many young people, I would like to raise the profile of our national culture as part of the mainstream, not only in Shenzhen, but also in Hong Kong and overseas," Tang told the Global Times.

Tang moved to Shenzhen and joined the big Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area family in 2021. More possibilities lay ahead for Tang as the border has reopened. "I will meet up with my family members; besides that I'll introduce my projects in Shenzhen to my friends and business circle and ask them to join us in promoting culture and art in the Greater Bay Area."

Influenced by her parents, Tang has a deep-rooted love for traditional Chinese culture.

"China has thousands of years of history; from ceramics, clothing, jewelry to food, all have their own cultural characteristics. I'm trying to convey aesthetics through our country's thousands of years of traditional culture and art."

Young generations from the mainland, Hong Kong and even overseas are becoming more interested in exploring their national history and understand who they are through popular artistic products, Tang said.

At a gallery in Shenzhen the Global Times found a steady flow of visitors enjoying Tang's baby figures on display called "A Shoppin' Baby" in 56 ­ethnic groups series. Those chubby baby characters vary greatly in style, such as ­Manchu-customed baby posing love gestures, baby styling in the Miao ethnic group eating ice creams and Qiang-styled baby listening to music with earphones on.

Photos of ethnic groups, their clothing designs and popular icons are also on display at the gallery. Tang said she always travels to cities in the mainland where ethnic groups live to draw inspirations.

Tang hopes to expand more themed chubby baby characters and roll out in series of Chinese martial arts and intangible Chinese heritage.

Tang said "A Shoppin' Baby" has been inspired by the figures in traditional Chinese New Year pictures and combined with modern retail trends. Over the past years, Tang has cooperated with a number of first-line brands, providing trendy products, such as sneakers, bags and dolls.

"For Hong Kong residents, through Guochao products I believe they will generate more of a sense of national identity," Tang said.

Hundreds of children and their family members have visited the exhibition in Central District of Hong Kong where Tang has arranged her ethnic series "A Shoppin' Baby" into the form of a tumbler allowing visitors to interact in person. "Locals in Hong Kong loved it, they smiled when in interaction with those tumblers, they took photos… those tumblers express a message that China, a country composing of 56 ethnic groups, will never fall down despite difficulties."

Apart from Tang, the Global Times found there are actually groups of young artists and designers in Hong Kong SAR and foreign countries who are interested in the designs featuring traditional Chinese culture.

"I design adorable Chinese dolls, dressing up with traditional Chinese clothes and hair decoration. It's a good way for children to learn traditional Chinese culture," said Lee Pak-hang, a young Hong Kong entrepreneur now based in Guangzhou.

Guochao has swept younger generations.

"The emergence of Guochao is the result of a combination of market forces and state support. In recent years, the popularity of TV programs on cultural heritage and related topics has boosted the revival of Chinese culture," said Zhang Peng, a professor of cultural studies from Nanjing Normal University.

"I believe Guochao will have bright future ahead, many partners are willing to introduce China chic style through their products and designs."