Village carries out unique beautificaiton project
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
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.