Lancaster University: New Chinese treasures project in flight at kite festival

A team from Lancaster University’s Confucius Institute (CI) were at Morecambe’s ‘Catch the Wind Kite Festival’ to reveal untold stories of Chinese artefacts.

Working with the Lancaster City Museums, the CI introduced the new ‘World in our Hands’ project to share rarely-seen Chinese treasures with local people.

The project, devised pre-pandemic, is designed to take objects out into the community allowing people to handle them and discover the stories behind them including what they may have been used for, how they were made, their age, how they got to the UK and who brought them.

The event in Morecambe, which tied in appropriately with the kite festival, also included an array of interactive and interlinked CI activities including paper-cutting, knotting and calligraphy.

Colette Webb, from the CI, explained: “Catch the Wind is such a fantastic event and we wanted to stage at least one event in Morecambe so it seemed to fit very well. And there’s definitely a strong tradition of kite flying in China.

“The making and flying of kites in China goes back thousands of years whereas in Europe the first mention is not until 1589. Legend would have it the first kite was built out of wood by a philosopher in Shandong.

“This year, in addition to enjoying the kites it was a privilege to chat to people in Morecambe about the Lancaster Museum objects and to hear their stories.

“We want to continue this project to take objects out into the community – so we will be planning other events too.”

Sandra Thornberry, the Lancaster City Council Cabinet Member with particular responsibility for Arts, Culture, Leisure & Wellbeing, said: “We are very pleased that our museums are working with the Confucius Institute on this project to take objects from our collection which are associated with China out to different locations in the area.

“We wish we could have everything on display but we simply don’t have the gallery space so it is important for us to get our collections out into the community whenever the opportunity arises.”