Walking through the streets of Chishang, you will often be surprised by the installation artwork that you come across around the corner. It may be a starry sky painted on the entire wall of a house, a sunrise peeking out of a bamboo forest, or a warm glowing planet in the night. These works are the creations of Jin Sheng Wang, who has not only been making environment creations but also helped renovate the teachers’ Japanese-style dormitory next to Fu Yuan Primary School in the past two years. As the wooden door opened, the smell of wood poured in, the sunlight flowed into the room through the window grilles, and the compartments formed by the interspersed bamboo slats give the room some natural vibrancy.
“I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a connection with old houses. They’ve always come to me.”
In the past, Wang had renovated an old house in Doulan and turned it into a unique restaurant and studio “Ye Shi Zai Doulan”. However, due to the increasing number of tourists in Doulan, his body could not cope with the busy rhythm. He moved from Doulan to Manzhou in Pingtung. Once again, he renovated an aged house to create a special café “A Shop in Manzhou”. Because of his family’s health problems, he then moved to Chishang to recuperate. He came across a decaying bamboo house, which, through Wang’s skillful hands, was transformed into a quaint art exhibition room “Chishang Old Place”. Wang talks copiously and fluently about his relationship with these gradually forgotten houses, transforming them from their original desolation and bringing people back, continuing their tales.
The Japanese-style dormitories next to Fu Yuan Primary School were also facing demolition due to a lack of maintenance and fund, which caused a wave of sorrow among the local residents of Chishang. Many people went around looking for resources in the hope of preserving the old houses. Wang also volunteered to help renovate the old buildings built during the Japanese colonial period. The renovation was finally completed with limited resources, and the teachers' dormitories were preserved and will continue to tell new stories.
Jin Sheng Wang, who has renovated several old houses, was invited by Chishang Township Office to participate in the beautification of public space soon after he moved to Chishang. They started from the square next to the Chishang Post Office, where waste materials were originally piled up. He transformed the space into a “Chishang planet” by using recycled materials, discarded steel pipes, iron frames, and a huge number of glass bottles. In the night when the planet is lit, the street of Chishang is illuminated by the warm glow of glass with various colors. In the daytime, the planet can be seen through the glass just like a kaleidoscope. This is Wang’s first creation in Chishang.
Since then, Wang has been making all kinds of transformations in Chishang’s Street. From large creations on the walls of old houses to the repair of messy-looking gardens, damaged fences, and painting the walls that are speckled and peeled.
“In fact, everyone was born with a sense of beauty. We just don’t always notice it. All that I did is just tidying up the messy space.”
We came to a particular house as we talked, Wang pointed out, “Look at this house. Originally, I just helped tidying up, so that it does not look too messy. After a short time, the resident feels very fond of it. So, they also painted their front door.”
Small changes made “beauty” spread to every corner of Chishang like the butterfly effect.
Across the street from the Chishang Farmers’ Association, there is an entire “flower wall” made of glass. Wang used the recycled materials that people usually throw away to create his work. This creation on the roadside aroused curiosity and attracted many people’s attention. Many people joined in the creation spontaneously. The wall, “Flower Blossom in Chishang,” was finally completed with 184 people. The seeds of aesthetics and rebirth will eventually blossom through this group of people.
“It’s really not just about me! So many people have participated and helped, and more often than not, I am just the beginning. The beauty of Chishang is a community effort! With the help of the township office and the spontaneous participation, maintenance, and creation, the aestheticization of Chishang’s everyday life is made possible.” Jin Sheng Wang said bashfully and modestly. The subtle changes and practices have led to the participation of the public and the beauty of Chishang.
文/吳紀昀By chi yun wu