‘Made in China’ is an exciting collaborative exhibition between The Fan Museum and Hong Kong-based collector and philanthropist, Edwin Mok. A mutual admiration for the art and craft of Chinese fans recently led to the kindling of a friendship between The Fan Museum’s founder, Helene Alexander MBE and Mr Mok. Following several animated discussions, it was agreed that an exhibition showcasing the very best of Chinese export fan design was, quite simply, a must! The Fan Museum’s outstanding collection of Chinese export fans will be augmented with highlights from the Edrina Collection along with other export articles such as ceramics, lacquerware and paintings on loan from the Oriental Museum, Durham.
Located in the heart of historic Greenwich, London, The Fan Museum occupies Grade II listed Georgian townhouses – lovingly restored internally and externally. Although the museum opened to the public in 1991, it remains something of an ‘undiscovered gem’ and is the only museum in the UK devoted in its entirety to the history of fans and the craft of fan making.
The museum holds in excess of 5,000 objects (not all on show at the same time) including fans and fan leaves dating from the 11th century onwards. Among the museum’s many treasures are works by fine artists including Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dali and Walter Sickert. Fans from the Far East are well represented within the collections and, in particular, the museum’s collection of Chinese fans made specifically for export to the West is both varied in type and of exceptional quality.
‘Made in China’ traces the evolution of Chinese export fan design from its emergence toward the end of the seventeenth century to its eventual decline in the latter part of the nineteenth century. A display of over eighty fans shows how Chinese fan painters/makers responded to demand from the West for luxury goods of Chinese manufacture. The inclusion of a number of Chinese fans for the domestic market illustrates how fans for export were designed with Western tastes in mind and were generally more exuberant in style, colour and form than fans favoured by the Chinese themselves.
Several events are planned to run alongside the exhibition itself, including an illustrated lecture given by The Fan Museum’s founder, Hélène Alexander MBE on the subject of Chinese export fans.
Made in China runs at The Fan Museum, London. From 5 September to 31 December 2015.