Images shot on Oriental Seagull 100 in Yashica Electro 35 GSN
If you’re ever in the People’s Square area of Shanghai and find yourself needing a break from the traffic, tourists, touts and tall buildings, Jing’an Sculpture Park is a good place to head to.
To be fair, the more famous and slightly bigger People’s Park is nearby and it’s usually possible to find a quiet spot there too in amongst the sakura trees and people gambling away their hard-earned RMBs on card games.
But if you went there you wouldn’t have the sculptures to photograph or stroke your chin in front of that you get in the Jing’an Sculpture Park. The clue is in the name.
I can’t remember how much chin-stroking I did on this visit but I did shoot some Oriental Seagull 100 in my Yashica Electro 35, which might sound pretentious enough anyway for some.
That’s up to them. I just want to show you what I came back with and tell you a bit about the park should you want to go there too.
What and where is Jing’an Sculpture Park?
Jing’an Sculpture Park can be found just north-east of the West Nanjing Road subway station, very close to Shanghai’s central People’s Square.
The main entrance is on the corner of Shimen 2nd Road and Beijing Road West and should only take five or ten minutes to walk to from the station.
Don’t confuse this place with Jing’an Park by the way, which is at the nearby Jing An Temple subway station, or Shanghai Sculpture Park, which is way out west in the Songjiang district.
Jing’an Sculpture Park was founded in 2007 and is meant for three main functions. Recreation, exhibitions, and art exchange.
The work on display comes from artists both local and international, with much of it being temporary as new pieces are introduced and removed over time.
Memorable temporary sculptures from my visit
When I went to Jing’an Sculpture Park in late 2018, Joseph Klibansky’s Self-Portrait of a Dreamer was there for that year’s Jing’an International Sculpture Project Biennial.
The work, which has already spent a couple of years in Amsterdam and other cities across the globe, explores the concept of balance and is a massive nod towards the artist’s countryman Vincent van Gogh.
The name of the piece relates too with van Gogh not being scared of an oil painting selfie or thirty.
Another installation that caught my eye has its roots in a far more local issue. The introduction of shared bicycles in cities across China appeared at first to be good for the environment but soon turned out to be quite the opposite.
As the number of bikes on the streets exploded and many of the companies behind them imploded, people and places were left with tonnes upon tonnes of scrap metal. See these pictures here if you think that’s an exaggeration.
Not all of that waste can be turned into art but doing so with some, as the Shanghai-based studio Design Republic did with a series of animal sculptures for their Urban Cohabitation project, is better than none.
Permanent fixtures in Jing’an Sculpture Park
It may be too late for you to catch either the Self-Portrait of a Dreamer spaceman or the Urban Cohabitation scrap metal animals, but there are always other sculptures you can see.
Some of them never change, like the metal bulls and huge pergola roof behind them. The park is also the location of Shanghai’s Natural History Museum, making the place popular with families and school outings.
Another permanent fixture is the congregation of people you’ll be sharing the park with, although the individuals are temporary and come and go, you’d imagine. Seems unlikely they live and sleep there.
Drollery aside, the people who visit Jing’an Sculpture Park do make it a decent enough place for some street photography while you’re there too.
If you combine that with the resident artwork, you could come back with some very good shots indeed. Better than I did, anyway.
The TL;DR on Jing’an Sculpture Park
If you’re in the bustling centre of town and need respite, it’s a good place to chill for a while. I think I forgot to mention its free to get in, too.
The ever-changing lineup of sculptures means you could go semi-regularly and see different work each visit.
Every two years might be a good rule of thumb seeing as they have the Jing’an International Sculpture Project Biennial there from September to December every even-numbered year.
You never know what you might find either if you go without researching. I had no idea Self-Portrait of a Dreamer was there. But then again, I had no idea what Self-Portrait of a Dreamer was before I was writing this up.
Quite lucky I photographed it really, then.
… p.s. if you’ve been to the Jing’an Sculpture Park yourself, let us know all about it in the comments below. 😀
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