China East-West: The Alternative Face of Globalisation in Urban and Rural Transformations

Curated by Professor Nicholas Temple, Dr Ioanni Delsante and Dr Yun Gao
30 January - 23 April 2016

This exhibition explored the changing face of regional urbanism, asking if the environmental, economic and social challenges facing many parts of the world will provide opportunities for regional cities and towns in the North of England to develop alternative forms of urban living, which are fundamentally different from those of the rapidly expanding metropolises.

Inspired by recent debates about the over-riding economic, political and cultural dominance of London in the United Kingdom, and the rejuvenation of the north in the context of developing a ‘northern powerhouse’, this exhibition provided global and regional perspectives to a range of issues including cultural and civic identities, transportation, health and well-being, and social and economic development.

As a platform to these issues the exhibition examined the changing relationships between the eastern and western regions of China through urban and rural transformations and the impact of globalisation. More typically applied to redefine the differences between China, Europe and the USA, the duplex term ‘East-West’ is intentionally used in this exhibition to reveal the regional challenges - and differences between - what is commonly regarded as the more developed east and the less developed western regions of China.

The exhibition focussed on Kunming, its surroundings in Yunnan Province and the Shanghai metropolitan region in the Yantze Delta Area. Through a comparative study of different scales of development – from the larger city to local transformations within particular urban or rural areas – the work presented here aimed to reveal how economic

development and planning policies, new transportation infrastructures and particular urban and architectural design initiatives are transforming, and differentiating between, eastern and western regions of the country.

The comparison between eastern and western China offers reflective opportunities for Huddersfield regional context, to reveal the nature of these different transformations, and how they are impacting on the life of communities.

The exhibition provided opportunities for public engagement about the urban transformations taking place in the UK - exploring how the dramatic changes taking place in Chinese urban and rural life compares to the ‘North-South’ divide in England, comparing the situation in the north of England (and West Yorkshire in particular) in relation to the economic magnet of London.