Bookstore taps art potential of Gulangyu Island heritage

2017-07-11 08:50:45 GMT2017-07-11 16:50:45(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

XIAMEN, July 11 (Xinhua) - Su Xiaodong owns a bookstore onGulangyu Island and he has called it "wormhole."

"A wormhole connects different time and space," said Su, fromthe city of Xiamen, eastern China's Fujian Province. "That'sexactly what I want to do, connect the island with its beautifulpast."

Su, 47, traveled to many countries before he decided to set upthe bookstore last summer. "The history and culture here is verydistinct," he said.

Gulangyu, off the coast of Xiamen, is famous for its variedarchitecture and multicultural history and was included on theUNESCO World Heritage list Saturday.

The island is dotted with east-meets-west style residences builtby overseas Chinese elites who returned to the island in the early20th century.

Su rents Haitian Pavilion, a historic building, as his bookstoreand renovated the interior to look like it did in the early 20thcentury.

"It was the best time on Gulangyu, quiet and with people fromdifferent cultures living in an international communitypeacefully." Su said.

Today, Gulangyu receives more than 10 million visitors per year,and many boutique shops, restaurants and hotels have sprung up inrecent years.

Su said he wants the bookstore to be a space where people canescape commercialism, and explore the island's culture in ahistoric setting.

His store has collected more than 3,000 books about Gulangyu,and he has an ongoing project searching for more worldwide.

"Preserving cultural heritage is not only about protecting thebuildings," Su said. "It's also about the memories of thesebuildings and recreating the experience for modern people, so theymight better understand a certain place or time."

Su believes art is one way for people to go beyond the here andnow and access the "wormhole" that brings them to the past orfuture.

In November, his bookstore exhibited works of young artists from16 countries, who had stayed in Gulangyu for two-months creatingart.

Inspired by the exhibition, Su tapped into the island's historyas an international settlement by inviting artists, from the 13countries that had set up consulates on Gulangyu in the middle 19thcentury, to stay and create art on the island.

"Their stories and work salute history and can bring fresh bloodto the culture on Gulangyu," Su said. Enditem