Written by (作者):?Red Peony Academy 红牡丹书画国际交流社
Photos by (图片来源):?Jack Jiang 姜红升


The Grain Rain season has started in China, and this is when the national flower, the peony, is in full bloom. On April 9th, to mark the flower’s return, the Red Peony Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Academy invited over 40 expats, including foreign teachers and students from Ningbo University, UNNC, the Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University and the Nottingham Confucius Institute to enjoy the opening ceremony of the Red Peony International Exchange Studio in Miaoyuan Village, Kecheng District in Quzhou, part of a new “Cultural Great Wall” initiative in the region aimed towards familiarizing foreigners with Chinese culture.

Quzhou, located in western Zhejiang Province, has received many distinguished honors over the years, including being recognized as a State-Level Historic & Cultural City, a National Ecological Demonstration Area and a Top Tourism City, drawing people from all over the country to admire its green mountains and beautiful scenery. As the main urban district of Quzhou, Kecheng is home to many tourist attractions including the best preserved city wall south of the Yangtze River, the birthplace of the game of go and the Confucius Temple of the Southern Clan. The location of the event, Miaoyuan Village of Jihua Township, is also steeped with history as it’s the legendary home of the Goddess of Spring as well as a grand annual ceremony to honor her.

Kecheng is also the hometown of Red Peony Academy founder Jack Jiang. To honor one of their best sons, the city commissioned the new exchange studio, lovingly called “Red Peony Garden”, close to the green mountains and clear water the city of Quzhou is known for. The garden is filled with peonies and close to a beautiful bamboo forest, which will inspire future students who visit the studio.

As a gentle breeze filled the air with birdsongs and the fragrance of flowers, the guests got out their brushes and set to painting peonies on rice paper, turning the village into a lively art project and a natural classroom where they could learn not only the art of painting the peony, but channel the history of the location through the ancient art of Chinese painting.

“April is a time when peonies make the landscape more beautiful” Lishui Xu, Secretary of the Kecheng District CPC Committee, stated, noting that he hoped the event could further enhance foreigners’ cultural understanding of Chinese arts and culture in order “to create a ‘great wall of friendship’ shared with people around the world.”

The event was co-organized by the Beautiful China Committee and the Kecheng government. Expats from Ningbo, the surrounding province and China will have the opprtunity to visit the new Red Peony Studio in the future. To find out more about the studio, classes, and upcoming outings and events, you can contact Jack Jiang through Ningbo Focus or at artistjack@163.com for more information.