Introduction: In April 2018, Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation welcomed a group of famous watercolor painters in Shanghai. They created a batch of paintings with the theme of the current office of the foundation -- the old residence of the Soong’s family, and donated these paintings to Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation. After donating these paintings to the foundation, the artists had a heated discussion on how to carry out cultural poverty alleviation through fine arts and how to participate in public welfare activities in a sustainable way, and expressed their intention to visit the public welfare project site. A year later, these artists packed their bags and painting tools and prepared to visit the project site of SSCLF’s farmers’ entrepreneurship relay baton project site in Huangshan, Anhui province...
April 8 First Stop: Yi County Younong Agricultural Supply and Marketing Cooperatives
On the morning of April 8, a delegation consisting of Hong Niuyi, Wu Guoqiang, Zhou Jiahua, Chen Weizhong, Xi Sailian, Liang Gang and SSCLF’s staff set off from Shanghai to catch the high-speed train to Huangshan city, Anhui province, and embarked on a five-day study activity.
The three-and-a-half hours' drive was fleeting in the expectation of the painters. Arriving in Huangshan, after a simple lunch, the artists rushed to Younong supply and marketing cooperative located in Wudongdian Industrial Park in Yi county, Anhui province.
Xu Haibo, cooperative director, enthusiastically introduced the development process of his cooperative to all the artists. From the very beginning, he was a person who knew nothing about agriculture, and gradually grew up into a cooperative director who could lead the farmers to develop the cooperative into a provincial demonstration cooperative.
Some cooperative farmers were also invited to attend the discussion and they talked about the changes of project households’ income after participating in the farmers’ entrepreneurial relay baton project. With the injection of funds from the relay baton project, farmers have realized mechanized operation and replaced the small tractors with large machines. One project household can complete several hundreds of mu of land cultivation work and increase the annual income. After the discussion, director Xu led the artists to visit the rice transplanter, sheller, packaging line and other mechanical equipment parked in the cooperative, and introduced the role of each machine in the process of production.
April 9 Second Stop: Xinanyuan Tea Garden, Xiuning County, Huangshan, Anhui Province
On the morning of April 9, the delegation members came to Xinanyuan tea garden located at the source of Xinanjiang river in Xiuning county. After visiting the tea garden, they also personally experienced the process of tea picking. Weather is beautiful, not very hot, but the work of bending over to pick tea has made it difficult for people who have not experienced farm work in urban life for a long time to realize it is not easy for tea farmers. According to tea growers, fresh tea is screened again after harvesting. It is high yield to harvest 1 kg of tea a day, and the harvest will be reduced in hot or rainy days.
In the afternoon of the same day, the painters met nine students and one teacher Fang Shanliang at Youlong Village Primary School next to the tea garden. Students' age ranges from kindergarten to the second grade of primary school. Mr. Fang is the teacher of all their courses. Hearing that a group of painters would come to Youlong village, the students eagerly expected their arrival. Looking at the eager eyes of the children, the painters showed their skill on the lawn one by one. Xie Sailian took the lead to show the children how to draw with oil painting sticks; Chen Weizhong later also showed his own housekeeping skills - watercolor painting. The children shuttled among the artists, learning while watching. It is the first time for them to see professional painters and to contact with professional fine art. The children looked curiously at the artists’ painting, and constantly asked the questions on how to use art tools, while the painters also patiently and carefully answered their "childish" questions.
April 10 Third Stop: Yixian Middle School - Art Class
The artists came to Yi County Middle School, located in the original site of Biyang academy of classical learning. Yi County Middle School Director Zhu specially greeted the painters, and introduced the history of Yi County Middle School. In the course of the dialogue, the school director also talked about the difficulties encountered in the process of running a school, such as the funding of running a school, the shortage of students, and the uneven distribution of educational resources.
The artists also enthusiastically gave a lecture on fine arts for the students of arts featured class at Yi County Middle School. In the lecture, Chen Weizhong told the students earnestly that learning skills may be a boring thing, but we should learn to enjoy fun amid hardship. Then he picked up the chalk and wrote the four words "Hello to the students" in hollow letters on the blackboard, and said, "Just like hollow handwriting needs constant practice and practice makes perfect. Although the process of practice is often painful, but it can be done as a happy thing by adjusting our mind."
After the lecture, the artists went into the classroom of the art class and observed the students practicing sketches on the spot. From time to time, artists point out the wrong or inappropriate places for the students. The artists told them from a professional point of view where the root causes of errors, so that students know what it is, but also know why it is.