Cardiff exhibition celebrates unique China connection

A display of photographic works at Cardiff University is celebrating 40 years of a partnership between the city and Xiamen.

This exhibition will be displayed until December 12, 2023.

A photographic exhibition in Cardiff has been celebrating three decades of a unique relationship between the Welsh capital and a city on the southeast coast of China.

Cardiff was the first city to twin with a location in China when it partnered with Xiamen over 40 years ago and the Cardiff and Xiamen Twin Cities Photography exhibition has been showing works by artists in the Health Library at Cardiff University.

Vivian Liang, One of the artists of the exhibition also a postgraduate student studying piano at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, said “My road of piano playing began in Xiamen and extended to Cardiff. This exhibition has made me cherish this cross-cultural academic journey more, and also inspired me to innovate and integrate Eastern and Western musical elements.

“For me, the connection is not only geographical, but also musical soul.”

Vivien learned about the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama through international exchange activities between Cardiff and Xiamen.

In 1983, Cardiff was the first city in the UK to twin with a Chinese city. Since then, many other twinning relations with Chinese cities followed suit across the UK.

Exhibition organizer Joseph Ssempa said, “This is the earliest sister city relationship between China and the UK, and I have felt the breadth and depth of twin city exchanges in the two cities.

“We hope that in the next 40 years, there will be more celebrations between the two cities, including in the fields of culture, economy and education, such as encouraging more cultural exchanges, such as art exhibitions, music festivals and theatrical cooperation, so as to strengthen the ties between residents of the two cities.”

Joseph Ssempa is very interested in Xiamen’s food.

The exhibition tells the story of the two cities over the past four decades, depicting the changing landscape of the twin cities and how each city grew and developed.

“My time at Cardiff University has meant a lot to me. When I saw the photos of Xiamen in this exhibition, I felt both kind and amazed,” said Zhehong Liu, an exchange student from Xiamen.

“They not only evoke fond memories of my hometown but also show the rapid changes and growth of Xiamen. At the same time, seeing pictures of Cardiff gives me a sense of the city’s historical and cultural depth.”

Since the 1980s, creating twinning partnerships with Chinese cities has predominantly been a means to develop economic relations. However, for Cardiff and Xiamen, great importance and value have always been given to educational and cultural collaborations.

The establishment, in 2008, of the Cardiff Confucius Institute is one example of the dynamism of the twin cities and, of the strong partnership between Cardiff University and Xiamen University.

Many students and local communities have benefited from the cultural and educational exchanges, as well as the teaching of Chinese language and culture through the Institute.

This exhibition will be displayed in the foyer of the Health Library at Cochrane Building, Cardiff University, until December 12, 2023.