By Janet Andrews, President, Wellington Xiamen Association
November 29 : A midnight flight from Melbourne landed in Wellington. On board were four artists from Xiamen – missing were their ten carefully packed large art works!
Luckily these arrived the next night, and by the following day were hanging alongside works by Wellington artists, in the Gallery at the historic St James Theatre. The artists had all been involved in exchanges between the two cities, and were old friends. The exhibition – “A Tale of Two Cities”- was to celebrate thirty years of Wellington-Xiamen sisterhood, and also featured photographs of the people of both cities, shot by a Wellington photographer.
Dec 3 : The Opening was a fast-paced and dramatic programme showcasing local talent – 300 guests were lead up the stairs to a darkened Gallery where young dancers performed through the crowd and onto a floodlit stage. They were followed by a rousing kapa haka performance, and a stunning AV show. The two mayors, Mayor Lester and Mayor Zhuang, were presented with unique mementos of the exhibition, and in turn presented the 10 artists with certificates and silver fern medallions.
Formalities were intentionally kept to a minimum as this was to be a “kiwi-style celebration”. President Janet Andrews gave a short description of sister cities and what the Wellington Xiamen Association does, and Hiromi Morris graciously presented her and the mayors with certificates. The mayors both made brief addresses before enthusiastically blowing out candles and cutting the very large cake.
Mayor Lester and Mayor Zhuang
Credit: Simon Hoyle
The Gallery lights were then switched on and the guests were free to enjoy the art, the food and drink, the live music on violin and guzheng, and tea from Xiamen.
The event had taken months of planning and hard work by the Wellington Xiamen Association – who saw it as a great way to spread awareness of our sister city and its potential to Wellington, and to emphasize the importance of the people-to-people relationship in our globalised world.