Ein Hod Articles

Ein Hod Artist Dina Merhav -- On a Magical Expedition to China

Impressions from my trip to China
The International Sculpture Symposium in Guilin

I would like to share with you my extraordinary experience.
For this purpose, please open a certain hidden drawer in your mind, or maybe, in the depth of your heart, and enter the atmosphere of paradise.

The different parts of my experience are the landscape with its
u nique nature, the people - Chinese and sculptors from all over the world, and the work, which for me is the most important.

The Symposium was in Guilin, South China, Yanshan district.
South from Guilin is modern Shangrila named Yuzi
Paradise. Yuzi means in Chinese "The stupid myself".
It was founded in 1996 by the Taiwanese millionaire Ray Chang Tsao, the president of a Taiwanese Company, Chin Pa San Group, which is his financial backing. Tsao is a man of vision and a great executive power. When these components join unlimited financial possibilities, the results are very impressive. When asked: "How does he invest such enormous amounts of money without seeing any profits?" he answers: "The stupid myself enjoys doing what I believe in" -- to enrich our lives with artistic, spiritual content, to prefer culture and art over materialistic comfort.

Despite great opposition he succeeded in buying the land, and seven years ago the first phase of construction started. This consists of the international sculpture park surrounded by working and living areas, the art village, art salon, teaching and exhibiting areas, open air theater and spiritual center. It is an ambitious project that aims to protect and preserve the unique nature of the region. In my opinion it is the most beautiful landscape in the world. The Chinese say that in Guilin Heaven and Earth meet. It is a landscape of plains and fantastically shaped mountains, the landscape changing forms and colors through weather and hour of the day. Sometimes it is mysterious and foggy, and sometimes open and Inviting. Through the centuries this landscape was a source of inspiration for Chinese artists, painters, poets and writers.

Besides preserving nature the main aim of the project is to connect the unique nature with visual art in order to create a complete experience. This experience includes exhibiting art, especially modern sculpture, art education and art research - to create a new culture which combines the landscape with sculpture from all over the world. Every artist brings his unique heritage and his own spirit.
This is also the intention of the founder - to create a cultural melting pot, bringing closer east and west.

The human encounter was not less fascinating then the one with the landscape. I was in China for the first time in 1992 and fell in love with the country and its people. The first trip's aim was to get some knowledge of this magic country. After the visit to Guilin I promised myself to come back. So I did! I realized this dream, and not only for just a trip but also to work and construct a sculpture. The Chinese are marvelous people. They experienced great suffering during the twentieth century. They are humble, diligent, and love their work. Never before did I see such disciplined, clever, precise, faithful, caring and happy workers. Most of them smile most of the time.

The encounter with the other eight sculptors who came to the Symposium from all over the globe was very interesting and enriching. All of them were men, only one older then myself. Three were South Americans: from Cuba, Peru and Colombia. We called them the Cha Cha boys. They were the youngest, always late, laughing and cheerful. Between all of us developed friendship, appreciation and mutual esteem. One sculptor was a professor, teaching sculpture in Melbourne University, another arrived from New Zealand, two from Germany and one from the Netherlands. In spite of our differences we found much in common, especially on the human and professional plains. Each of us delivered a lecture, showing and explaining our work. I was the first one, showing slides and reading some of my poems. Some of my colleagues asked me to read my translated poems in the original Hebrew, and so I did. They were also translated, like everything else, into Chinese. The sculptors and the Chinese assistants where enthusiastic and excited about the poetry. I received much appreciation, admiration and warmth. It was a magical and exciting evening.

Immediately at the beginning, I realized that I could do two sculptures during my stay of five weeks. I suggested constructing my second proposal "Fishing", a big bird holding a fish in its beak.
The idea for the work "Fishing" was inspired by the cormorant fishermen whom I saw on my previous visit to Guilin. The trained
and faithful bird catches the fish for man. The connection between bird and fish symbolizes an embrace between man and animal, and expresses my desire for a better harmony between man and nature.

My proposal for "Fishing" was accepted by the art committee. I ordered the iron plates and started construction. I also made a 1:10 maquette from iron. Later I was told that the founder, Mr. Tsao, preferred "Fishing" to the "Bird of Paradise", which was chosen by the art committee, but he respected their opinion.
"The Bird of Paradise" was the proposal for which I was accepted to participate in the international sculpture symposium. The Bird is a reflection of the soul -- free, floating in space, wings reaching for heaven, body rooted in the earth. It expresses the yearning for a lost paradise, an unattainable world without aggression and evil, of people living together in mutual understanding, cooperation, peace and love.
After reading the publications about the Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park and art project I realized that our dreams are overlapping.

Activities on weekends

First Weekend
Visiting Guilin, that is a world famous touristic cultural city. Its population is almost 5 million people, including its surroundings.
We visited the oldest stone bridge Baisha. The water system with
Beautiful decorated lights and then sailing on Two Rivers and Four Lakes. We saw the Elephant-Trunk Hill, a rock that looks like an elephant drinking water. Seven Star Park is on the eastern side of the Li river. It is a marvelous park with fantastic vegetation and other attractions.

Second Weekend
Driving to Ping'an village in Longsheng county, inhabited with Zhuang and Yao Minorities. They live in the mountains for hundreds of years and are considered as mountain sculptors because they build the beautiful rice terraces all over the mountains. It covers an area of 4 square km., with vertical rice of 500 m. We went to a walk for about 3 hours trough these enchanting landscape. On the way back we took a hot bath in a hot spring resorts.

Third Weekend
A short drive to Yangshuo, which is China s' most popular destination. The village is set amongst limestone and karsts peaks and is filled with picturesque alleys, shops and restaurants. The highlight of this trip was the cruise on the Li river heading towards an old fishing village. The fantastic shaped hills reflected in the water makes it all look like a fairy land. The green bamboo greets the visitor, the breeze caresses him and the buffaloes makes him smile. The extreme natural beauty of the Li river cruise is beyond description, you must be there to see it with your own eyes and feel with your own heart.

Fourth Weekend
Our last weekend was a surprise. The founder Mr. Tsao held a festive dinner party in honor of the sculptors. The dinner took about four hours with endless courses that included snake meat and other odd sea species. Mr. Tsao declared that he is giving us a gift, a trip to Shanghai to see the Yueyuanyuan Art Park, where our Sculptures are going to be installed. After two hours of flight we landed in Shanghai. An enormous city, New York of the east, sky scrapers with surprising and exiting shapes, extraordinarily illuminated. First we went to see the model of the tourist project, of which the art park is part of it. The model itself is a masterpiece of about 20 m. square, illuminated, with many details, very impressive. This is a tourist project initiated by the government. It includes the construction of roads, hotels, private houses and an art museum. My "Bird of Paradise" 2003, colored iron, Height 880 cm. will be placed there.

The name of the park Yuenyuanyuan means the Fool Moon park. It is a green fascinating corner with a blue lake surrounded with a
walking path and rich vegetation. All my life I had a dream to place one of my sculptures in a place like this. After seeing the park we went to a fancy restaurant for a celebration and closing party by the Shanghai Municipal Government. The next day we visited Shanghai Modern Art Museum. After another excellent meal we returned back to Yuzi Paradise. It was an exiting and important visit.

August 2003 Dina Merhav

Click for more sculptures by Dina



"Fishing" Iron 2003
H. 1050, L. 500, W. 350 cm
Placed at the entrance of
Yuzi Paradise Sculpture Park, Guilin, China








Constructing "Fishing"








Guilin, China







"Bird of Paradise" Painted Iron, 2003
H 880 L.580 W. 560 cm
Placed at Yuenyuanyuan Park, Shanghai, China


"Bird of Paradise"



"Basic Design and Development of Creativity"
By the artist
Dina Merhav