Say the word China and a million things will come to mind: The Great Wall, The Middle Kingdom, the Olympics, Tibet, human rights.
When it came time for photographer Ann Launcelott to think about the word, it was images of the past and future which captivated her.
“China is very much in the news, mainly with bad press against its government’s policies with Tibet and all these toys that have been recalled because of lead paint,” she said. “I am trying to get beyond that and look at the people.
“That is what I want the public to see,” said Launcelott, who is exhibiting a series of photographs depicting life in some of the country’s major cities. The images were captured during a three week trip to China, which Launcelott made a year ago.
She travelled through the eastern and central part of the country, visiting the garden city Suzhou, the Paris-of-the-east Shanghai, the capital Beijing and a number of other cities.
“I just went over there and whatever struck me I would take photos of. It wasn’t until I got back home, and started looking at them all, that there was a theme.”
What grabbed her attention were images of the traditional lifestyle of people in the city, where they will live part of their life on the street in front of their home.
“They cook on the street, prepare potatoes on the street, sharpen knives, read their newspapers, smoke their cigarettes. Everything seems to be done on the sidewalk outside their home.”
Launcelott said there was a strong visual contrast between these images on the smaller roads and lanes, and the neon signs and corporate logos on the high end shopping streets and roadways.
“Right behind those is this traditional lifestyle that seems to be untouched by the modernity that’s taking place just one street over. It is those dichotomies that just blew me away.”