Visitors to the fruit-themed Summer Fun Day at the Museum of Royal Worcester on Wednesday 17 August were delighted to compete in the ‘Chopsticks Challenge’ organised by Engage with China, one of the participating exhibitors. Concentration, dexterity, and calmness under pressure were three of the main skills required of visitors as they attempted to achieve the highest score of picking up and transferring raisins from one bowl to another. People of all ages, including grandparents and children as young as six years old, gave it their best go, with some being taught how to use chopsticks for the very first time.
The winner in the young category, was George White, who goes to school in Worcester. His Mum, Lorraine said, “We all had a lovely time doing the activities. The ladies at the fruit sketching and Cheese tables were especially engaging with the children, which made all the difference.” Lucy Wicks, who teaches Chinese at Didcot Girls School in Oxfordshire, showed off her mastery by almost emptying the contents of her raisin bowl in the allotted 30 seconds. Her advantage was clear when she explained that, “I spent time in China observing how Chinese people eat and they can really shovel the food in efficiently. I learnt to copy that.”
“Learning about China through an object as simple as chopsticks is an easy access point to learning about China’s culture, history and its impact on the rest of the world. H-J Colston-Inge, who delivered the session, and Director of Engage with China,” said. “We teach young people in schools about how much we as a nation, have wanted from China over centuries – including tea, porcelain, chinoiserie – and how its innovation has inspired our culture, traditions, tastes and fashion. Being able to immerse the visitors, by virtue of being physically in the midst of the porcelain collection at the Museum, and to talk about our huge cultural links with China, is both compelling and fascinating. It’s a brilliant way to open eyes to a whole new world, build curiosity and creativity and to see how China has been a driver of that over many centuries.”
Other fruit-themed activities were on offer from Engage with China. Visitors learnt about motifs in Chinese art and their hidden symbolism as well as how to pronounce and write the Chinese characters, for the word ‘fruit.’
“This calligraphy has been so wonderful and calming,” said Rachel Needham, an attentive grandmother giving her granddaughter a great day out. “It’s been so good for the adults, too.”
Visitors were also able to be develop their artistic skills making their own fruity books, learning from former Royal Worcester expert artist how to paint onto porcelain and playing with words and story with the Rhianna Levi, Poet Laureate.
Engage with China is delighted to be a new partner of the Museum of Royal Worcester to develop links and outreach both in the community and beyond.