My first SACU event: Su Tong in conversation with Dr Frances Wood – by Dr Fang ZONG (English and Chinese versions)

Firstly, I thank Iris Yau丘靜雯, SACU Council member and the event organiser, for encouraging me to share my reflection on attending my first SACU event “Open-Air Cinema: Su Tong in conversation with Dr Frances Wood.”

I knew SACU (Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding) for a long time, through my line manager Bryan Sitch, Deputy Head of Collections of the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester. We jointly published a research article entitled “An Umbrella of the Chinese Labour Corps in the Manchester Museum Collection” in China Eye in 2018. As we have been working together to develop a permanent Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery at our museum, Bryan recently advised me to join SACU to draw inspiration from SACU’s events. How to tell a good story of China is the mission of our Chinese Culture Gallery. Also, I learned that Michael Wood, Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester, is the current President of SACU. From his The Story of China both television series and book, I have been learning more about my own Chinese history, culture, and people from the eyes of a British historian.

Finally, I formally became a member of SACU on 4th July 2022, and I just regretted that I did not join SACU earlier. Meanwhile I was so glad that I joined SACU in time as I was able to join my first SACU event on 16th July 2022, and it was also an event which recalled my childhood wish, though very vague, to be a writer.

Su Tong in conversation with Dr Frances Wood

This cross-oceanic literary dialogue between the Chinese writer Su Tong 苏童and the British sinologist Dr Frances Wood吴芳思, was jointly held by the Chinese People’s Literature Publishing House and the British Chase Publishing House. Through a video link, these two famous cultural masters discussed the creation of literature, and the translation, introduction, and dissemination of contemporary Chinese literature in the UK.

It was a hybrid event online and onsite organised by Sinoist Books, China Exchange and SACU. I joined on Zoom and soon found out so many pages of audience on my computer screen. Later I learned that the People’s Literature Publishing House had simultaneously broadcast the event, which attracted nearly 30,000 domestic and foreign viewers to watch the live broadcast online in just one hour. On screen I saw a large live audience at the dialogue at China Exchange, Chinatown, London. I wish I could join in-person for my next SACU event.

Dr Frances Wood is a big name for a book worm and a museum professional now focusing on Chinese culture. Whenever I visit the British Library and appreciate its Chinese exhibitions, I am thinking of the driving force and wisdom “behind the scenes”.

Su Tong is one of China’s most acclaimed writers. I learned about Su Tong through watching the films Raise the Red Lantern by director Zhang Yimou, and Rice, both adapted from his books. This SACU event provided me with an opportunity to virtually “see” Su Tong, a successful writer who a very young Chinese girl once had a dream to be.

Book cover of Open Air Cinema: Reminiscences and Micro-Essays from the author of ‘Raise the Red Lantern’

During the dialogue, Frances expressed her appreciation for Su Tong’s works. From the perspective of British scholars and readers, she asked Su Tong many questions about his works. Su Tong specifically talked about the English version of Open-Air Cinema just published in the UK, because this is the first time that his collection of essays has been translated into English and published overseas. I have not read this book yet, though simply through the title I remembered my childhood experience of enjoying many open-air films in China. In my imagination each essay is like a slide show reflecting fragments of his memory about changes in China.

Also, Su Tong spent much time talking about his long novel Shadow of the Hunter, an English edition of which was published in May 2020. Its translator James Trapp, and editor David Lammie, were also present at the event. This urged me to know more about this novel, and so I searched its Chinese version and was astonished to see its book cover design with the distinctive yellow Winter Jasmine drawing and elegant inscriptions for the book title in Chinese Seal Calligraphy. I thought they are so much like the artworks of my Chinese tutor, Professor Chen Lyusheng. He is a senior art critic, curator, painter, calligrapher, photographer, collector, and a former Deputy Director of the National Museum of China. He is currently the Director of the Centre for Arts and Sciences, and Museums, of the University of Science and Technology of China, and a guest professor in art and museum study for many universities, including Nanjing Art Institute, Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, the City University of Macau, and Taiwan Normal University. He also has close relationships with cultural institutions in the UK.

Professor Chen Lyusheng in front of his painting “Winter Jasmine”

I checked with Prof. Lyusheng about this book cover, and he admitted that it was his artwork which had been commissioned by the book publisher, Writer’s Press. He admires SACU’s mission and what we do and would like to collaborate with SACU. Later I attended SACU’s China Connections/Chinese Heritage Working Group meeting on 23rd July 2022, and recommended him to the Working Group for future SACU events such as comparisons of museums and arts between UK and China etc. SACU Working Group members were very interested in him and what he would bring to SACU. I would very much like to make the link between him and SACU, and to help to coordinate potential related events, to make my contribution to SACU as a new but dedicated member.

SACU dinner in Manchester August 2022

Shortly after my first SACU event, I was invited to a dinner meeting with some SACU members in Manchester Chinatown where I met Iris Yau (Council Member), Walter Fung (China Eye Editor), Cilla Hollman (Manchester Branch contact), Jenny Clegg (Vice President), Hanxin Yang (President of Xinhua Chinese Association) and Kevan Nelson (Unison Northwest Regional Secretary). Iris gave me a copy of her exhibition document Opium, Silk and the Missionaries in China, Jenny kindly gave some China-related books to us, and Walter brought me several copies of China Eye magazine. All these will be beneficial to my work for the Chinese Culture Gallery. From these SACU members I learned more about SACU, its history, mission, and future.  I was so moved by their long-term passion and dedication to carry out SACU’s mission.

My first SACU event was a good kick start for my future journey with SACU and opened my eyes to a wider vision to promote understanding between the peoples of China and the UK.

Again, thanks to Iris Yau for organising this wonderful event and encouraging me to write down my personal experiences of it. Also, thanks to all other SACU members who helped to make this event so successful. Thanks SACU.

by Dr Fang ZONG, August 2022

Dr Fang ZONG is currently a Curatorial Research Assistant for the Lee Kai Huang Chinese Culture Gallery at the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, working on Chinese collection research and gallery content development, and establishing / maintaining relationships with local Chinese communities and museums in China. She graduated from Karolinska Institute, Sweden, with a PhD degree in Medical Sciences, previously worked as researcher in Biomed and Public Health in China, Sweden, and University of Manchester. She has been learning museum practice, Chinese history and culture for many years.

我的第一次SACU活动 “露天电影:与苏童对话”


首先,感谢 英中了解协会 (SACU) 理事、这次活动的组织者 丘静雯(Iris Yau),鼓励我分享我第一次参加 SACU 活动 “露天电影院:与苏童对话”的感想。

通过我的直属领导、曼彻斯特大学曼彻斯特博物馆典藏部副主任Bryan Sitch,我很早就知道了英中了解协会 (SACU)。 在2018年,中国眼 China Eye发表了我们题为 “曼彻斯特博物馆中国劳工旅的伞” 的研究文章。我们正在努力工作, 要在曼彻斯特博物馆内建立一个永久性的李启鸿中华文化馆,Bryan最近建议我加入 SACU,从 SACU 的活动中汲取灵感。如何讲好中国故事是我们中华文化馆的使命。另外,我了解到曼彻斯特大学公共历史学教授Michael Wood是 SACU 的现任会长。从他的《中国故事》电视纪录片和书籍中,我从一位英国历史学家的视角更多地了解了我们中华民族的历史、文化和人民。

终于,我在 2022 年 7 月 4 日正式成为 SACU 的一员,我只是后悔没有早点加入 SACU。同时我很高兴我及时地加入了SACU,因为这让我能够在2022年7月16日参加我的第一次SACU活动,这也唤醒了我模糊的记忆,童年曾有过的愿望,成为一名作家。

Su Tong in conversation with Dr Frances Wood

此次中国作家苏童 (Su Tong) 与英国汉学家吴芳思博士 (Dr Frances Wood) 的跨洋文学对话活动,由中国人民文学出版社和英国查思出版社联合举办的。两位文化名家通过视频连线,就文学创作、中国当代文学在英国的翻译、推介和传播等话题展开讨论。

这是一场由 SACU 组织的线上和线下同步进行的活动。我加入了 Zoom 线上活动,很快就在我的电脑屏幕上看到了如此多的观众页面。后来得知,本场活动的同步直播在短短一小时就吸引了近3万名国内外观众在线观看。通过电脑屏幕,我也看到了在伦敦中国城的中国站活动现场,大量的到场观众聆听对话并参与互动。我希望我能到现场参加我的下一次 SACU 活动。

对于一个专注于中国文化的 “书虫” 和博物馆人,Dr Frances Wood 是个响当当的名字。每当我参观大英图书馆,欣赏它的有关中国的展览时,我都在想这些精美呈现的“幕后”英雄的智慧和推动力。

苏童是中国最著名的作家之一。我看过由他的书改编的电影《大红灯笼高高挂》和《米》。这次 SACU 活动让我有机会 “看到” 苏童,一位成功的作家,一个中国小女孩曾经梦想成为的人物。

Book cover of Open Air Cinema: Reminiscences and Micro-Essays from the author of ‘Raise the Red Lantern’


此外,苏童还花了不少时间谈论了他的长篇小说《黄雀记》,该小说的英文版已于2020年5月出版,其译者 James Trapp和编辑 David Lammie也到了活动现场。这促使我对这本小说想要有更多的了解,于是我搜索了它的中文版,惊讶地发现中文版的封面设计,其独特的迎春绘画和优雅的中国篆书书名, 似曾相识, 很像我的中国师长陈履生教授的作品。陈履生先生是中国资深艺术评论家、策展人、画家、书法家、摄影师和收藏家,曾任中国国家博物馆副馆长。他现任中国科学技术大学艺术与科学研究中心主任和博物馆馆长,是南京艺术学院、上海美术学院、澳门城市大学、台湾师范大学等多所高校艺术与博物馆研究的客座教授。他还与英国的文化机构有着密切的联系。

Professor Chen Lyusheng in front of his painting “Winter Jasmine”

我向陈履生教授求证这事, 他说这是他的作品,是受作家出版社委托特为苏童的《黄雀记》创作的。他很钦佩 SACU 的使命以及我们所做的工作,并愿意与 SACU 合作。后来我参加了2022年7月23日SACU的中国联系/中国遗产工作小组会议,并向工作小组推荐了陈先生, 比如参加SACU将来的活动。SACU工作小组成员对他非常感兴趣,想了解他会给SACU 带来什么。我非常愿意为SACU 和他建立联系,并帮助协调可能的相关活动,作为一个新成员为SACU做出贡献。

SACU dinner in Manchester August 2022

在我参加我的第一次 SACU 活动后不久,我受邀在曼彻斯特中国城与一些 SACU 成员晚餐聚会,在那里我见到了 Iris Yau 丘静雯(理事会成员)、Walter Fung(China Eye 编辑)、Cilla Hollman(曼彻斯特分部秘书)、Jenny Clegg(副会长)、杨汉新(新华联谊会会长)、Kevan Nelson(Unison 西北地区书记)。 Iris 给了我一份她策展的 “鸦片、丝绸和传教任务” 展览相关资料,Jenny 好心地给了我们一些与中国有关的书籍,Walter 给我带来了《中国眼》杂志。这些都会对我中华文化馆的工作大有裨益。从他们这些 SACU 资深成员中,我进一步了解 了英中了解协会 (SACU)、她的历史、使命和前景。他们对 SACU 使命的长期热情和奉献精神让我深受感动。


再次感谢 Iris Yau 丘静雯组织了这次精彩的活动,并鼓励我记录下我的个人感受。此外,感谢所有让这次活动如此成功的 SACU 成员。感谢 英中了解协会 (SACU)。

宗芳博士, 八月2022