Yan Wang Preston: Mother River
Presented in association with Kildare Village.
Mother River is a photographic odyssey taking the viewer on a journey along the entire length of the Yangtze, often known as China’s Mother River. This new exhibition, commissioned in partnership with Impressions Gallery Bradford, offers fresh perspectives on China, where traditional landscape clashes with present-day development.
The epic project follows a simple premise: to document the 6,211km route of the river from source to delta, using a strict ‘point system’ to photograph every 100 kilometres. Made over a period of four years, Yan Wang Preston travelled from the remote high Tibetan Plateau through the Three Gorges to the river’s end at Shanghai. She had to find and photograph sixty-three locations in incredibly diverse and often remote terrain. Since the river source is 5,400 metres above sea level, and half of its length flows through some of the most majestic mountains on the Earth, Mother River is on one level a modern-day adventure, where the photographer faced hazards from altitude sickness to mudslides and wild dogs.
Wang Preston used a large-format field camera, the kind used by nineteenth century explorers. Although cumbersome and complex to use on location, the camera produces huge negatives, offering images with astonishing detail and resolution.
For Chinese-born Wang Preston, Mother River is in part an epic pilgrimage through her native country: an exhaustive exploration of a powerful symbol that reconnects her with the ancestral homeland. Closely associated with Chinese traditional paintings and an icon of the national landscape, the Yangtze represents the folklore of traditional China. However, with over 30 hydroelectric dams on its course, the river is synonymous with China’s rapid industrialisation. Wang Preston’s epic, multi-layered work raises questions about the relationship between nature and culture, tradition and regeneration.
Mother River is a touring exhibition produced by Gallery of Photography Ireland in partnership with Impressions Gallery, Bradford. It is supported by Dublin Chinese New Year Festival.
Open every day. Admission free.
About the artist:
Yan Wang Preston (Born Henan Province, China, 1976) originally trained as a doctor in Shanghai before moving to the UK in 2005. Her work has been exhibited at Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts (2014), Noorderlicht Photography Festival, the Netherlands (2012), the National Portrait Gallery, London (2006) and Touchstones Gallery, Rochdale (2014). She won ‘Reviewers Choice’ at FORMAT International Photography Festival 2014, and was selected for the Britain-China Culture Exchange in 2015, with Mother River exhibited at Three Gorges Museum, Chongqing; Wuhan Art Museum; and The Swatch Art Peace Museum Hotel, Shanghai.