I recently attended a Southeast Asian regional conservation forum in Taiwan, and wanted to share some of my experience with you. Here’s a peek at “Embracing Cultural Materials Conservation in the Tropics”–and some of my textile-icious sights and sounds!
Connections, Camaraderie, Conservation
Attracting 100 participants from Asia, and a large contingent from Taiwan, the November 2015 forum was an energetic, diverse, and informative gathering.
Our organization APTCCARN (Asia Pacific Tropical Climate Conservation Art Research Network) is unique –a spirit of congeniality means attendees get to know one another, and build connections in this hot sticky region.
Whether from Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand – everyone shared the common challenges of trying to preserve paintings, wood, drawings, textiles and metal with high humidity, insects, and monsoon weather patterns. Much of APTCCARN’s attendees’ work is community driven; conferring with elders, and clergy, and indigenous leaders, and small rural museum directors. The context, soil, climate, religion, language all shape the way conservation projects are undertaken. So, everyone joined in a spirit of mutual respect, recognizing that the cultural context is paramount in our daily work of preserving the past for the future.
One of the highlights was staying at the famous Grand Hotel, in itself a historic site, dating from the 1950’s. A symbol of Kuomintang power, it is said that Madame Chiang built this southern branch hotel as a resort for her high society and international guests. Towering red lipstick columns run the length of a monumental Chinese palace-style structure. Every rafter is covered in polychrome and gold paintings of dragons and auspicious symbols, reminding me of the proliferation of architectural painting in Bhutan. Sumptuous old world style of huge lobbies, smooth redwood floors that shone from 60 years of polishing, and Ming style furnishings. The hotel is a ‘grande dame’ of Chinese extravagance, and now in need of our conservation and restoration assistance.
Many famous people stayed here – the first State visitor was the Shah of Iran, followed by President Eisenhower in 1960, the King and Queen of Thailand in 1963 during their World Tour, Nelson Mandela, and a young Elizabeth Taylor.
And finally, no trip to Taiwan can be covered without showing some food!!! It’s the MOST foodie country I’ve ever visited.