Using the mythical forest as the central subject, the project explores some of the complexities around China’s explosive urbanisation process. Initially developed in the metropolis Chongqing, which constructed hundreds and thousands of ‘forests’ to make itself into ‘a city suitable for living’, the series is now chasing China’s national phenomenon of rapid forestation. Although young trees from nurseries are still a default supply, mature trees are highly desired. Trees as old as 300 years are sourced from domestic areas such as the demolished villages, flooded countrysides, and natural forests. Some are sourced from the international market as far as Vietnam. Their prices depend on their rarity and age, and their suitability for the local climate or culture is often ignored. Tree dealing and transplanting have become profitable industries.
Over the last two years I have also begun to photograph the same ‘forest’ sites repeatedly. Urban forests at nights also became a subject. With the narrative given by time, a fuller life begins to unfold around these dislocated creatures. The project is an attempt to tell such stories. The series is expected to complete within 2014 to 2015.
Yan Wang Preston is a British-Chinese artist based in West Yorkshire, UK. Born in Henan Province in central China, Preston entered the prestigious Shanghai Medical University to study Clinical Medicine in 1994 and was subsequently qualified as an anaesthetist in China. In 2005 Preston moved to England with her husband. Since then she decided to pursue a new life as a photographer, and has since completed a MA in Visual Arts at Bradford College. She is now completing a PhD in Photography with Plymouth University.
Preston’s artistic career has been fruitful in the last eight years. Her work has been shown in national and international venues such as the National Portrait Gallery in London (2006), the York Art Gallery (2010), the Noorderlicht Photography Festival in the Netherlands (2012), the CENTER Photography Festival in New Mexico, the USA (2013) and the 501 Artspace in Chongqing, China (2013). She has won a number of awards such as the Third Prize, Curator’s Choice Awards by CENTER in Santa Fe, USA (2013). Since 2010, Preston is completing her long-term project on the Yangtze River in China. Details of the project can be found on her website.
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