A newcomer business in Charlottetown is hoping to blend traditional Chinese art into P.E.I.’s culture.
Photography of both Chinese and P.E.I. landscapes as well as original artwork by Island artisans decorate the walls throughout the Sealand Art Gallery and Gift Store, which opened at the former CitiFinancial location at 150 Kent St. earlier this fall.
Sales manager Yang Wang, who operates the store with his wife and president Xuhong Hu, said just about everything in the store is handmade or painted.
“We wanted to show the artwork and story of different cultures,” Wang said during a holiday open House hosted at the store on Saturday. “We just want to put together local artists and the (Chinese) artists to work together.”
The open house provided an opportunity for the couple to introduce themselves to local artisans and customers.
The couple moved to P.E.I. from China last January and brought much of their own culture with them, with a mission of giving traditional hand-crafting techniques a new life through art.
For example, pillows and other fabrics at the store and naturally dyed through Indigo, which has a long history in china dating back about 1,000 years. Wool felt products are made through a traditional four-step method used by those who live in the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam and Thailand.
Posters next to items in the store also describe these processes in details.
“We want to introduce our culture here to the local people,” said Hu.
The store also offers handcrafted leather items, pillows featuring photos of Island landmarks and is also open to working with P.E.I. artists.
Island artist Judy Perry, whose contemporary modern paintings are featured prominently throughout the store, said she felt the concept behind the store was a great idea especially with the large Asian population now living in P.E.I.
“It’s really nice to see pictures and learn how they make things, it’s a really good cultural experience,” said Perry.
However the business hopes to bring together individuals of different cultures through more than the artwork.
For example, there’s a space to enjoy traditional Chinese tea or coffee, while another room is filled with books mainly in Chinese that families can rent out.
Hu said she also hopes to make the area a meeting space for locals of different cultures.
“Maybe to get some locals, maybe some (newcomers) like us… just to have six or eight people who are curious about other people’s cultures and we can (have a discussion),” she said.
More information on the gallery and store and is available on the Facebook page Sealand Art Gallery & Gift Store and website www.sealandart.com