Following the online digital exhibition ‘ Song of the Female Textile Workers’ held throughout February on the Leeds Industrial Museum website, on the 18th March 2021 we held a Post Exhibition Discussion event.
The discussion was open to the public and held online. It was co-chaired by Dr. Haili Ma, project Principal Investigator at the University of Leeds, Mr. Chris Sharp, Community Curator at Leeds Industrial Museum, and Mr. Steve Ansell, Artistic Director of Stage@Leeds.
The discussion explored how Shanghai, Leeds and Yorkshire can use traditional culture to connect communities in the digital age. It also explored the opportunities and challenges that may be encountered when collaborating online from three levels: censorship, digital compatibility and artistic creativity.
The discussion was commenced by Dr. Haili Ma, Principal Investigator of the project, who kicked off the event with a performance of Yue Opera by Chinese national actress Wang Rousang. Dr. Ma then presented an overview of the project and its current status, outlining the purpose and content of the discussion.
The discussion began with a focus on the shared cultural memory of the textile industry in Shanghai and Yorkshire. A notable participant was Richard Smith who had experience of managing textile manufacture in both West Yorkshire and Shanghai. Steve Ansell recognized the culture of the Yue Opera community that emerged among the women weavers in Shanghai, pointing out the commonalities between Leeds and Shanghai in this regard. At the same time, however, he felt that the biggest challenge to cross-border digital collaboration was the objective differences between China and the UK, with political and social differences leading to incompatible digital platforms.
Project Manager Ken Proctor then presented the intertwined histories of the textile industries in Shanghai and Yorkshire, pointing out the commonality of their creative transformation from mass machine production. This led to a fascinating discussion among participants, notably Chris Sharp and Suzy Shepherd (Yorkshire Textiles), about the cultural heritage of textile craftsmanship, factory sites and Yue Opera, which brought the discussion to a climax.
During the two-hour discussion, participants had friendly communications and engagement, providing many valuable experiences and ideas for the project and its’ ongoing development. At the end, every participant expressed their blessings and expectations for the project, bringing the discussion to a conclusion.
(Yifei Li, Chunyi Wu)
A version of this news article has also been published by Shanghai Textile Museum and Shanghai Yue Opera House who are jointly promoting the development of this project:
伦敦时间2021年3月18日18时，《纺织女工之歌》项目成功举办了在线展后讨论会，由利兹大学项目首席研究员马海丽博士、利兹工业博物馆社区官员Chris Sharp先生和利兹剧场/数字媒体平台（Stage@Leeds）艺术总监Steve Ansell先生共同主持。