fertile grounds . about . fungi fest . a is for apple . just here 2 network . keel tongue язык . man-made disaster . roots and connections . intimacy . ripe . self/control . diaspora summit . where does this take you?

Chloe is part of the organsing team for the the Diaspora Summit and the curator for the exhibition that happens in conjunction to the summit.

The Diaspora Summit is the most exciting celebration of young Chinese talents in the UK, with the aim of igniting passion and initiative through promoting cross-cultural dialogues, diversity and collaboration within the community.

The Diaspora Summit aspires to serve as the platform to gather like-minded individuals and role models within the Chinese community in the Britain—from local to overseas, current to future generations, and friends who share an interest in its vibrant cultural heritage. We aim to be the driving force for these talents to become active agents of positive change in society.

Through a day of interactive discussions with esteemed speakers, engaging workshops and exhibition, the Diaspora Summit showcases some of the most fantastic achievements of the diaspora community in the UK.

About the exhibition:

Donald Shek’s series of work is a response to Limehouse Nights, a 1916 short story collection by the British writer Thomas Burke. The stories are set in poverty-stricken Limehouse district of London where at the time was the Chinatown. The opening story is titled ‘The Chink and the Child’ which was about the devout love of a Chinese man for a white girl. This book was banned in circulating libraries and book shops – for the author’s evocative portrayal of a hybrid East End of London. Back then the relations between Chinese men and white women had become an issue of critical national concern. Co-habitation in Chinatown undermined the hierarchical structure of race that upheld Britain’s imperial status quo. Limehouse Nights is an example of the late-nineteenth century fantasy of a dark and barbaric East End of London, and the “mysterious Orient”. Of course, these stories are not true representation of what was really happening at Limehouse, giving credit that fictional books have made up elements to the characters and plot but the book had great influence in forming the stereotype of Chinese people. Some of the stories were made into film adaptations in the US, even Charlie Chaplin credited it as an inspiration for his work A Dog’s Life.

Since this the publication, the idea and existence of the Limehouse area, Chinatown, and Chinese people exploded. Tomas Burke considered this his contribution and that it was magical rather than detrimental. He built a curiosity of this dark, elusive, exotic community in Limehouse that was very different to what you would see anywhere else in London – which of course was not entirely true. The ideas were fuelled by a fixation for a mysterious and exotic fantasy of culturally different people. Stories that are exaggerated and romanticised or maybe more accurately – fetishized – slowly start to form stereotypes and become what people believe to be true. The myth of Chinese Limehouse was always far greater than its actuality.

The idea of a ‘myth’ is very interesting. Myths are important to us. They have value as literature, they usually bring out timeless and universal themes, they give us insight into other times and places and they help us to see how much humankind had and has in common. There’s also the other side of a myth which is the falsehood and misconception of ideas.