Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art
Chloe spent two weeks in Manchester at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) for a research-based residency. Chloe moved to London from Hong Kong to attend MA Culture Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins and took the residency to reflect on the personal experience of moving between countries and cultures.
Areas known as ‘Chinatown’ exist throughout the world, and it is historically known as an ethnic enclave in an urban setting outside of China. Chinatown plays a significant role in the development of Chinese culture in many western countries. Manchester’s Chinatown, and all others in the UK, were rooted in the restaurant business. After the immigration boom, many more surfaced in addition to other types of businesses. This spatial pattern of occupation has helped many Chinese immigrants build their community and preserve their culture outside of the dominant western culture. At the same time, gentrification pushes these spaces to become an urban artifice used for touristic and commercial purposes – exploiting culture for economic gain and political agendas.
In the two weeks of the residency, Chloe interviewed Helen Tse, one of the founders of Sweet Mandarin, a Chinese restaurant right around the corner of CFCCA. Helen shared her story of how the survival of the restaurant and the family was through the wisdom and recipes passed down a line of women of three generations. It was as much a story of how much strength and resilience is required of immigrants that move from their home to a foreign country as it was a story about how powerful food is in bringing people together. The open studio at the end of the residency was set up as a research centre to discuss food culture, Chinese diaspora, citizenship and land use.