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East Meets West exhibition opens at Museum of the Jewellery Quarter

Winner – Final touches before the show – Photo Credit: Merlin Daleman – © Jim Simpson and Birmingham Jazz Festival

Photographs which bring to life how ‘East Meets West’ in Birmingham and the West Midlands have been revealed at a new exhibition at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, which is on display until 27 June 2020.

The exhibition features 10 winning images from the photography competition launched in 2019 by China West Midlands 2020 and Birmingham Museums Trust, and showcase people, places and objects in and around the region which bring together Chinese and Western influences.

The winning image by Merlin Daleman titled ‘Final Touches Before the Show’ captures the Chinese Jitterbug Squad, an all-female dance troupe, preparing to perform for The Queen on a visit to Birmingham in 2012. The performers can be seen putting the final touches to their make-up ahead of the performance which took place as part of the royal visit for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour.

Two runners up were recognised as highly commended. British born Hong Kong Chinese photographer Allan O’Neill’s image ‘Frank Soo’ is a constructed photograph reimagining the life of Frank Soo, who was the only British Chinese footballer to have ever to represented England at football. Frank Soo was a pioneer, representing England 9 times between 1942-1945 and playing 326 club games of which 173 were for Stoke City.

Keloi Hoang’s photograph ‘The Lion and the Sentinels’ focuses on a traditional Chinese stone lion statue nestled between the post-war twin tower blocks known as The Sentinels on Holloway Head in Birmingham city centre.

Frank Soo – Photo Credit: Allan O’Neill – © Allan O’Neill

The lion seems to be standing guard, and the photographer says, ‘the statue is eternally vigilant in the heart of the city as it marches towards the future.’

Seven more images examine the unique mix of Eastern and Western cultures in the region.

The East Meets West exhibition is part of the China West Midlands 2020 celebrations established by the Chinese Community Centre – Birmingham, Birmingham Business Focus and Birmingham China Business Forum. The project aims to promote deeper understanding, greater collaboration and mutual prosperity between the West Midlands and China through a series of cross-cultural events covering the arts, theatre, exhibitions, sports and business seminars. Visitors can see the exhibition for free in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s commercial gallery space. The framed images are available to be purchased with half of the proceeds from each sale going towards supporting Birmingham Museums Trust, an educational charity which cares for Birmingham’s unique collection and heritage. The rest of the proceeds will be split between the photographer and WuWei CIC Ltd, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese Community Centre – Birmingham, a charity that provides community services such as healthy living, elderly services, carers support and a range of sports and cultural activities.

The lion and the sentinels – Photo Credit – Keloi Hoang – © Keloi Hoang

Dr Yeow Poon, Chair of the CWM 2020 Planning Team and Chair of the Chinese Community Centre-Birmingham, said: “It is our hope that the East Meets West photography exhibition contributes to the creative diversity of Birmingham and encourages further explorations on how bringing together ideas from East and West can enrich our lives.  East Meets West is the first of several events throughout 2020 in music, dance, drama, visual arts, sports and business seminars.”

Alex Nicholson-Evans, Commercial Director at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be showcasing these photographs at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and kickstarting the China 2020 West Midlands celebrations. Visit the free display to see a new perspective on our city and its influences.”

For more information see: www.chinawestmidlands.com.