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It's all Chinese to art students after successful study trip

Published: 
29 April 2008

Traditional Chinese paper-cutting, calligraphy, tai chi and dumpling making were all on the agenda, along with visits to textile factories and Mandarin lessons, during a three-week study placement in China by University of Southampton art students.

Twenty-five fine art, graphic arts, and textiles, fashion and fibre undergraduates from Winchester School of Art (WSA) have returned home after a successful trip studying alongside Chinese students at the University's partner universities in China.

The week-long study placements at Dalian Polytechnic University, Changshu Institute of Technology, and Suzhou Art and Design Technology Institute involved both on and off campus study activities and gave the WSA students a comprehensive introduction to Chinese art, education and culture.

In Changshu, students got an insider's view of China's large-scale manufacturing industry on a tour of two textiles factories, where they had access to the testing centres and dye and processing laboratories. They also visited one of the world's leading toolbox factories.

Cultural visits included visits to traditional gardens and villages in Changshu and Suzhou and there was a chance to discover the rapidly changing urban landscape of Dalian, one of the richest cities in China.

Isabel Jameson of WSA, who accompanied the students on the visit, explains: "The study placement was an opportunity for Winchester School of Art to build on already successful partnership agreements with Chinese higher education institutions - but first and foremost, it was an opportunity for our students to discover China and its people.

Graphic Arts student Beth Salter tries Chinese ink painting
Graphic Arts student Beth Salter tries Chinese ink painting

"The visit could not have come at a better time: China's place in world economics is continuing to grow at a great pace, and it is highly likely that most of our students will have contact with the country and its business or manufacturing industries at some point in their future careers. The study placement was an opportunity for them to discover China within an educational context, and will promote greater integration and understanding between students from both countries."

Beth Salter (22), a second-year student studying graphic arts, whose family home is in Harestock, Winchester, says: "I had a really amazing time in China. It was a real eye-opener seeing a different culture and working with the students from the three universities. We tried our hands at Chinese artistic activities including ink painting, calligraphy and paper cutting, which gave me lots of inspiration for my work.

"It was great to visit three such different cities. The universities organised so many activities and trips for us that we saw and experienced lots of different aspects of the culture. We went to four factories in Changshu, lots of art galleries and some gardens. I particularly enjoyed visiting the traditional Chinese gardens in Suzhou. We had lectures about how Chinese gardens are designed in a certain way so that when we visited we really understood them. I'm really glad I went on the trip and would love to go back and see how China has changed in five or ten years time."

The success of the study placement means that similar visits may be organised for WSA students on a yearly basis. Photographs from this first visit will be included in the WSA Degree Show in June (21 to 27) and an exhibition of work created during and inspired by the visit is planned for later this year.

Notes for editors

  • Digital images of the study placement to China are available from Communications on request.

  • The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship.

    This is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

    We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

    As one of the UK's top 10 research universities, we offer first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering.

    We have over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover in the region of £325 million.

  • Founded in 1860, Winchester School of Art has an international reputation for research and teaching in art and design, and has links with many other institutions in Europe. WSA merged with the University of Southampton in 1996.

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