Sculptor Mai Thu Van aspires for art to revitalise public spaces

Three sculpture clusters, which were created by a group of lecturers from the Vietnam Fine Arts University, have been installed to create highlights around the Hoan Kiem Lake during the days of spring.

One of sculptures at Hoan Kiem Lake
One of sculptures at Hoan Kiem Lake

The works are the result of a collaboration between managers and creative artists. Sculptor Mai Thu Van, one of the creators, granted an interview to a Nhan Dan Weekly reporter and talked about the decorative art in public spaces around Hanoi, particularly around Hoan Kiem Lake – the heart of the capital city.

Q: The appearance of the three sculpture clusters around Hoan Kiem Lake has received a lot of attention from people. Could you talk about this project?

A: Over the past years, the decoration of Hanoi’s streets, particularly in the area around Hoan Kiem Lake, has not been appreciated by citizens and visitors. Many people complained that too many lights were used in installations, causing light pollution and wastefulness, while failing to enhance the beauty of the capital.

Therefore, Hoan Kiem District People’s Committee has recently asked us to implement a sculpture project to decorate Hoan Kiem Lake on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, in the aim of bringing a new appreciation of art to the public. Thanks to the experience of implementing community art projects both here and abroad, we tried to create artistic works that can satisfy the public’s taste.

Q: Is it difficult to please all people of different ages?

A: Yes, it is. Previously, the streets in Hanoi were decorated only with lights and flowers, which have grown banal over time. Therefore, authorities agreed to our project, combining sculpture with decorative lighting. During the implementation process, we had to study people’s tastes to make changes to suit reality.

We were excited to introduce our series of sculptures to the public and people were also eager and interested in our works. They enjoyed and captured the images of sculptures that they liked. It can be said that the art and decorative works convey the artists’ ideas and were appreciated by the public.

Q: You have said that you studied the people’s taste before beginning your project. What do you think about the public’s demands today?

A: In fact, previously, managers and creators of the public decorations were afraid that people would neither enjoy nor understand such new creations. The people’s aesthetic perspectives today are different. In the international integration, they get in touch with numerous advanced cultural and artistic movements. Motley decoration is a trend from 50-60 years ago, so it is difficult for people today to accept the works like that.

Our efforts in artistic creation persuaded people to love our works around Hoan Kiem Lake.

We have created community art projects for 10-20 years. However, we have not had the opportunity to connect with people who want to enjoy new creations. Artists have always been absorbed in creation; however, the main barrier to bringing art works closer to the masses was that managers have not dared to do new things.

Fortunately, with the project to make sculptural decorations for the area around Hoan Kiem Lake, the aspiration for bold new creations from the managers created a connection between artistic creations and the public.

Q: It seems that the innovation of managers helped artists find great inspiration in aestheticising Hanoi. Do you believe that your project will be an exciting start in decorating the public areas of the capital city, particularly Hoan Kiem Lake?

A: Yes, it is certainly. Currently, the people’s demand for entertainment is increasing, but Hanoi lacks beautiful spaces for such use. Artists like us always wish to contribute to filling this insufficiency in the capital city, and the positive changes in managers’ thinking is essential to that process.

Thank you very much!

Sculptor Mai Thu Van aspires for art to revitalise public spaces ảnh 1

Sculptor Mai Thu Van

Sculptor Mai Thu Van is now a deputy head of the Department of Sculpture under the Vietnam Fine Arts University. She has joined many international camps in Vietnam and foreign countries, including the Republic of Korea and the US.

The artist is the author of large decorative reliefs in the building of the Hanoi municipal People’s Committees and the Thanh Xuan District’s Cultural House as well as two large reliefs titled ‘Dat Me va Coi Nguon’ (Motherland and the original point) at the National Convention Centre.