Graf­fiti town

Vil­lage car­ries out unique beau­ti­fi­caiton project

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ji Zhim­ing smiles ev­ery time he sees all the graf­fiti on the walls of the vil­lage. They not only please the eye, but will also bring him a for­tune, he says.

The 63-year-old re­tired en­gi­neer lives in Guazhou vil­lage, which lies in the south­west­ern sub­urb of Yangzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

He plans to open a restau­rant and make full use of his cook­ing skills.

“Some tourists have heard about our graf­fiti and paid a visit,” said Ji. “Some knocked on my door to ask if I could of­fer them some food. They loved the fresh veg­eta­bles I grew by my­self and the eggs I picked up from the hen­house.”

To make the fu­ture tourists more com­fort­able, Ji has built a pavil­ion and grown var­i­ous kinds of flow­ers in his yard. The en­gi­neer also de­signed a small foun­tain among the flow­ers.

“The vil­lage’s graf­fiti makes me want to make my house more beau­ti­ful. I never imag­ined that one day I would be­come a restau­rant owner. It may changemy life.”

The graf­fiti Ji men­tioned will be fin­ished around Oc­to­ber. Pro­fes­sional artists and art stu­dents from Yangzhou Univer­sity have been in­vited to paint on the walls. The painters dis­cussed the graf­fiti’s themes with the vil­lagers be­fore they started.

The graf­fiti can be roughly di­vided into three categories — Chi­nese paint­ing, oil paint­ing and European-style 3D paint­ing.

Un­like some of his friends who adore car­toon char­ac­ters, Ji likes very much the Chi­nese paint­ing on his wall, which re­minds him of the soft rain and hu­mid air of spring.

“It shows peach tree blos­soms in red in front of tra­di­tional river­side Chi­nese houses. Only three col­ors are used — red, black and white. It’s sim­ple, but beau­ti­ful.”

The themes of the graf­fiti also need to re­late to the en­vi­ron­ment.

If a house is sur­rounded by wa­ter, the graf­fiti is sug­gested to high­light the wa­ter el­e­ment and use green. If a house has poul­try, then the house own­ers’ ar­dor for car­toon images are more eas­ily ac­cepted by the painters.

Zhang Xin, head of Guazhou vil­lage, says the main aim of the graf­fiti project is to raise the in­come of some vil­lagers who can­not find work due to their phys­i­cal con­di­tions.

“Al­most all the young vil­lagers have worked in cities. We were wor­ried that some con­ser­va­tive old vil­lagers might not let oth­ers paint on their walls, but to our sur­prise, our vil­lagers keep open minds and all sup­ported the project.”

“Be­sides Ji’s restau­rant, some oth­ers plan to run ho­tels, pro­vide food sup­plies and sell sou­venirs,” said Zhang. “The vil­lage com­mit­tee will give them ad­vice and some fi­nan­cial sup­port.”

The vil­lage also grows large ar­eas of sun­flow­ers to at­tract more tourists. Lots of pho­tog­ra­phers, pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur, go to the vil­lage when the yel­low flow­ers blos­som.

“We’ll grow dif­fer­ent kinds and batches of sun­flow­ers to make the flow­er­ing stage longer,” Zhang said.

Zhou Ruxia, chief of Guazhou town­ship, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over Guazhou vil­lage, said that the town does not wel­come in­dus­trial pro­grams and will only de­velop tourism.

“It is a small town­ship not far from the Yangtze River,” said Zhou. “Be­sides the graf­fiti and sun­flow­ers of Guazhou vil­lage, other vil­lages are also en­cour­aged to de­velop their own at­trac­tions. For ex­am­ple, tourists now can en­joy hot springs, go fish­ing and pick fruit in dif­fer­ent vil­lages.”

“The vil­lagers sup­port our plan to de­velop tourism. We are work­ing to­gether to find a green way to build the vil­lages.”

We were wor­ried that some con­ser­va­tive old vil­lagers might not let oth­ers paint on their walls, but to our sur­prise, our vil­lagers keep open minds and all sup­ported the project.”

Zhang Xin, head of Guazhou vil­lage in Yangzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince

PHO­TOS BY XU ZHENYU AND GUO JUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

From top: Tourists pose for pho­tos with an ele­phant and a gi­raffe that were painted on the walls of houses in Guazhou vil­lage, Yangzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince. Above: Out­side walls in the vil­lage are dec­o­rated with col­or­ful paint­ings.

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