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        Sino-French craft exchange program hosts award ceremony

        By Cheng Yuezhu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-05-07 09:44
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        Hand of Wisdom, a Sino-French craft exchange program, hosted its 2024 awarding ceremony on April 20. [Photo provided to China Daily]

        The Hand of Wisdom program, a collaborative Sino-French craft initiative, held its 2024 award ceremony on April 20, revealing woodworking maestro Hua Yong as this year's distinguished recipient.

        Established in 2019 by the Golden Phoenix Science and Art Fund of China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and the Yishu 8 art platform, the program spotlights a unique craft each year, crowning a Chinese artisan as the victor and granting them a residency in France.

        Since 2020, the renowned French cognac brand Hennessy, with a legacy dating back to 1765, has partnered as a sponsor, augmenting Sino-French cultural and artistic dialogues by welcoming artists to the picturesque Cognac region of France during their residency.

        In continuation of past themes focusing on felt, metal, and lacquer, this year's edition of the program shines a spotlight on the art of woodworking. The selection process commenced in January, with 19 woodworking virtuosos nominated and three finalists chosen by a panel of Chinese and French art connoisseurs and professors.

        Laurent Boillot, the CEO of Hennessy, announced woodworking artist Hua Yong as this year's winner. [Photo provided to China Daily]

        At the ceremony, Laurent Boillot, the CEO of Hennessy, proudly announced Hua, a woodworking luminary and alumnus of Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts and Design, as the deserving laureate for 2024.

        "In light of the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations, I am deeply honored to receive the Hand of Wisdom award as a modern artisan. When Mr. Laurent Boillot called my name, it felt surreal," expressed Hua with humility.

        "I eagerly anticipate witnessing the rejuvenation of traditional Chinese craftsmanship through the medium of wood in Sino-French exchanges. I aspire for handicrafts, as a universal language, to translate ancient Eastern wisdom into contemporary design."

        As per the program's guidelines, the winner will be bestowed with a prize and a two-month residency at the International City of the Arts in Paris. Additionally, they will embark on a weeklong exploration of Cognac to delve into the heritage and savoir-faire of Hennessy.

        During their Parisian sojourn, the winner will host a studio open day or a salon exhibition, culminating in a solo showcase at the Yishu 8 house in Beijing.

        Boillot shared his personal affinity for China, having made numerous visits over the past two decades to delve into its cultural ethos, including the philosophical underpinnings and humanistic concepts embedded in Chinese artworks.

        "The cultural bridge between China and France embodies mutual enrichment, and immersion in culture is the ultimate path to understanding," Boillot remarked.

        Beyond sponsorship and offering Cognac visits to winners, Hennessy extends an invitation for recipients to craft a piece for its collections, symbolizing friendship and reinforcing the cultural ties between China and France.

        Observing the burgeoning interest of Chinese youth in their heritage, Boillot noted a trend where artists and artisans draw inspiration from Chinese legacy, melding ancient craftsmanship with contemporary creativity.

        "We are not selecting the themes of the program. We are just following Yishu 8's decisions. But I think we'll cover all the handicrafts that exist in China one after another. I hope to see great works in other handicraft forms and that the program will continue to feature the bridge between the craftsmanship and the creation," he added.

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