Sculpture parks are becoming quite the norm the world over these days. I remember going to my first in the north of England some 35 years ago and it seemed in those days such an amazing thing to do, giving over an entire parkland to sculptures.
Beijing has had a sculpture park since 2002, and very good it is too. Whether you are a culture vulture or just enjoy seeing the occasional work of art that makes you smile, its 43 hectares has it all.
Shijingshan District over on the far west of Beijing may not be a place rich in historical sites or natural landscapes, and it is not likely to be on the wish list of many a tourist visiting the northern capital; but, according to tour-beijing.com, “here are over 200 sculptures from over 40 countries, dotted in the park creating a paradise for people seeking the mixture of arts and natural beauty”. Well, paradise might be over-egging it a little, but there is surely something here for everyone.
The park is divided into an East Park and West Park which are connected by an underpass. The east garden displays “human culture”, and the west part expresses “pastoral beauty” – well that’s the premise anyway. “They are complement with each other, picturesque like painting and poem,” tour-beijing.com gushes on.
China.org.cn, perhaps rather late in the day, informs us that “the works on display are Beijing's latest attraction, and add a touch of modernity to this ancient city. Some are to be placed in sports stadiums during the 2008 Olympics.”
An old notice board at one of the entrances tells us "We expect Beijing International Culture Park to become a second sight symbol among Beijing City”; but that was probably wishful thinking, given its location!
Yatra.com, tourtravelchina.com and a number of others urge you not to forget your camera, and when you get there you can soon see why.
If animals float your boat, then there is a plethora to choose from, ranging from these spawning salmon…
… to a ‘Confrontation Bull’ by Shanghai-artist Liu Xunfa…
…to this yellow frog, given the epithet ‘Joy’ by a Beijing artist called Fan Chenzhong.
Or how about this ‘Mantis', by Beijinger Wang Hu?
Sculpted birds too are found everywhere. One of my favourites is ‘Paradise’ by Zhong Ma…
…not forgetting ‘Bamboo Partridge’ by Yang Ge,
or these adorable owls which have lost their pedigree sign.
There are three areas where sculptures of famous people have been erected. Here you will find composers such as Bach, Paderewski and Beethoven…
…as well as scientists that include Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, who looks like he posed for this on the morning after a bloody good party!
Artists being… well, artists, it’s no surprise that the human body is well represented, with breasts spilling out at every available opportunity.
Some leave you wondering why… for instance in this bronze called ‘Walking Towards the World’ by Tian Jinduo, the girl has remembered to put on a head scarf and shoes, but had a lapse of memory when it came to putting on anything else;
while this strumpet, by French artist Maire Madeleine Gautier, leaves you somewhat wishing she had got her kit on first before lying out in the sun reading!
‘Beautiful Life’ by Han Meilin is somewhat more tasteful, representing a mother and child.
Abstract art is also well represented. This is called ‘Moon Mirror II’ by Czech artist Emil Adamec;
while this somewhat colourful display by Zhang Hua is called ‘Melody’.
And here is 'Opening of a Disc' by a Spanish artist who goes under the name of XuXo.
Some of the names given can themselves be somewhat paradoxical. How does this sculpture by Tian Shixin equate to 'Sound of the Mountain' I wonder…
Other signs also intrigue as much as the artworks themselves. Here, for instance is 'Creeping' by Xu Guohua that we are told is made out of "useless metal" (I’m pretty sure they mean scrap metal, which I guess is pretty much the same thing). It probably looked a whole lot better before it started rusting away; but I have to say I quite like it.
Traditional art also gets a look in, such as this ‘Tibetan Girl' by Cheng Yunxian.
But for me, perhaps the musical corner is what I like the best. This ‘Glamour of Home Town’ by Yu Shihong stops everyone dead in their tracks;
while who cannot be forced to raise a smile with 'Choir' by Zhang Liqi?
And the sculpture that everyone wants to pose with? Without a doubt, 'Rocky Roll' by Hao Zhonghai.
Thank you tourtravelchina.com … I’m so glad I didn’t forget my camera! Rock on!
Beijing's Sculpture Park is equidistant from Yuquanlu (exit D) and Babaoshan (exit B and then cross the road) on Line 1. You can also reach it using bus #1.