Craftsmanship receives central focus in Prince Claus Prizes
Craftsmanship as a renewing force in a globalising world. During
the annual presentation of the Prince Claus Prizes on 10 December
in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, the Prince Claus Fund honoured
artists, thinkers and cultural organisations that have developed
new views on traditional techniques and crafts. The main prize was
awarded to the Chinese Wang Shixiang, who has devoted his life to
studying his country's cultural heritage.
Some twenty doves fly over the enormous video screen in the Royal
Palace’s public room bearing a lute, a Chinese musical instrument
that makes them seem to serenade the audience while floating on
the wind, 'Doves are peaceful birds that can play peaceful tunes,'
says Wang Shixiang. 'I hope that these tunes go to people's minds
so that peace will come, because the world is horrible now.'
Wang Shixiang, who is 89, spent most of his life studying the
Chinese culture, in particular the rich tradition of furniture design
about which he has written several books. He is also a poet and
calligrapher. The Prince Claus Fund honoured him for his accomplishments
by awarding him the main prize, which he received at the Netherlands'
Embassy in Peking from Dutch Prince Johan Friso. He will use the
€ 100,000.00 prize money to partially finance the construction
of a Sino-Netherlands friendship school in south China.
In addition to the main prize, ten Prince Claus Prizes of € 25,000.00
were awarded. Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown was awarded a
prize for his projects in Candeal Pequeno, the shanty town where
he grew up in Salvador. He founded the percussion school Pracatum
there in 1994 along with the social development project Tá Rebocado.
A surprising prize winner was the football club MYSA (Mathare Youth
Sports Association) from Mathare Valley, a neighbourhood in the
Kenyan capital Nairobi. The MYSA youth not only play football,
but also help to improve life in this shanty town by cleaning it
up. In doing so, they earn points that they can ultimately exchange
for a college grant.
Other prize winners were the Argentinean film producer Lita Stantic,
who gave new life to Argentinean cinema during the country’s
political-economic crises, the District Six Museum in Cape Town,
the Arab Human Development Reports, Turkish musician Hasan Saltik,
the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture in Cambodia, cultural activist
G.N. Devy from India, Zimbabwean architect Mick Pearce, and Yovita
Meta. Yovita Meta founded the Biboki Weavers, an organisation of
38 weavers in West Timor that modernises old techniques and cherishes
cultural heritage while stimulating social development.
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