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A trading journey: glimpses of Bristol’s Chinese twin

Image of Guangzhou ©2015 Alejandro Acin

Images of modern day China in the exhibition were inspired by the ‘Historical Photographs of China’ project ©2015 Alejandro Acin

Press release issued: 12 November 2015

A shipping container on Bristol’s docks will be transformed into an art gallery this November, hosting an exhibition of images of modern day China inspired by the University of Bristol’s ‘Historical Photographs of China’ project.

Inspired by themes that emerge from within the 34,000 images digitised by the project, photographer Alejandro Acin has been working around some of the most important markets in the port of Bristol’s twin city Guangzhou – Canton.  This south China conurbation has long been a transhipment point for the country’s engagement in the world’s economy.

The aim was to create a visual narrative based on the routine trading activities of market traders and their relations with their environment.

The initiative is one of three cultural engagement partnerships sponsored by the AHRC-funded British Inter-university China Centre.

Alejandro Acin said: “My images explore the streets and markets of one of the world’s major ports, reflected through the experience of digitising a vast archive of historical photographs of the same city.” 

The shipping container in which the photos are displayed, emphasising the idea of trading, will be outside the M Shed on the Bristol docks from Thursday 12 November to Sunday 22 November 2015.

The exhibition is part of the InsideArts festival 2015.

Further information

Venue: Container hosted at M Shed Cafe, Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN

Date: Thursday 12 November to Sunday 22 November 2015

Time: 10am ‐ 5pm

Entry: Free

University of Bristol / InsideArts

InsideArts is the University of Bristol’s biennial festival of the arts and humanities.  It hopes to engage with as many people as possible through a varied programme of events which includes exhibitions, screenings, lectures, debates and even an immersive cinema experience.  InsideArts is part of Being Human, the UK’s only national festival dedicated to demonstrating the breadth, diversity and vitality of the humanities.

Historical Photographs of China

‘Historical Photographs of China’ seeks to locate, and digitize for preservation and dissemination, photographs of China held in private hands in the United Kingdom.  The project offers material which augments what has survived in China itself.  It also provides a substantial resource for the study of European and Chinese photography, for the history of collecting, and for studies of the material culture of life in China, and the after-China lives of those possessing such items.

The initiative began with funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.  Support from John Swire & Sons Ltd further helped it get off the ground and prepare its first exhibition.  Subsequent support has come from the British Academy, which accorded it 'Academy Research Project' status in 2006 (renewed in 2012 for five years), and from projects funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and JISC.  It has also received important support from the Worldwide University Network.

M Shed

Housed within a 1950s dockside transit shed, M Shed is an exciting and innovative museum for Bristol telling the story of the city through the stories of people who helped shape it.  Rich collections of objects, art and archives bring these stories to life in three galleries: Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol Life.  Visitors can ride M Shed's largest exhibits – the cranes, train and boats – from Easter to October and the temporary gallery on the second floor displays changing exhibitions throughout the year.  For more information, visit Bristol museums.

IC – Visual Lab

IC‐Visual Lab is an independent photography organisation coordinated by Alejandro Acin and based in Bristol.  As well as facilitating a range of practical photography workshops, IC Visual Lab also run a range of community focussed projects include screening nights, seminars and exhibitions.

Alejandro Acin

A photographer and producer based in Bristol, Alejandro Acin has done a variety of educational and artistic projects as well as curated a regular programme of photography events, exhibitions and festivals.  In 2012, he joined the team at Historical Photographs of China where he now works as a project assistant and picture editor.  He is founder and current director of IC-Visual Lab.

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