October 28, 2014

A Magical Spot in the Mountains - The Ju Ming Museum

In The North East Corner of Taiwan 

In a far away corner of Taipei, well, not really Taipei, but as close as you can get and still be far away, is an interesting little spot. How to get there with public transportation I don't know, but I heard that there is supposed to be a bus service certain days and times. If that is true or not, I don't know, but there are taxis and other types of tours, or you take your scooter, if you are lucky enough to have one.

Trust me on this one - it is worth the effort. 

The Ju Ming museum – 朱銘美術館(JuMing MeiShuGuan)- a magical place up in the mountains. It is worth going here just for the view but when you see the museum itself, embedded in the green, it's easy to be lost for words. 

Ju Ming, 朱銘 – Ju Ming (Pinyin Zhu Ming) – is an artist of today, born in the 1930-ies (about the same age as the place where I have my flat in Germany, mind you), and he is Taiwanese, and possibly one of the most famous Taiwanese in the world of sculptures. Ju Ming started as a woodcarver and carpenter – like most Taiwanese he has a solid training in the background. He later discovered his passion for art, and he has been an active artist since the 1960:ies, with a huge production, a lot of it massive sculptures, often roughly cut – and mesmerising, as he tells a story. 

In the museum, a tremendous museum, mainly outdoor, many of Ju Ming's sculptures are on display, in a fantastic setting – it is worth coming here just for the nature, maybe with a picnic basket, but with the sculptures you wonder if you have stepped in to the magical world of Narnia. 

Ju Ming was born in Taiwan, further down south, and he was the youngest child in a group of many. The family was poor, and I can't help but wonder how that helped form him – because we are all formed by how we grew up and under the circumstances we became adult, aren't we. In Ju Ming's work, you can see strong connection to the tradition and the culture he grew up in. When he was born, Taiwan was still under Japanese rule, but before he was 10, the world was turned upside down and Taiwan had a new government, and KMT came over from China when they lost the civil war against Mao. At the same time Europe and US was changing dramatically, with WWII ending. 

It was a world turned upside-down for many. 

And as so often happens, when the world in general changed, so did the art world – everything is indeed connected.

It is very interesting to see the Ju Ming artwork not just because the sculptures are fascinating and have their own rough beauty, but when you see it in the context of Ju Ming's background, it becomes even more grand. 

The first exhibition Ju Ming had outside Taiwan was in Japan, something that at least I find fascinating – it was part of what probably is the most famous of Ju Ming's work: The Tai Chi series, a series of huge statues, all posing in different Tai Chi positions. I do say posting, because that is the feeling that you get; The Ju Ming statues really do come alive and you do sense that when left alone, they do move, and they do change their positions – and then you look again, and they quickly freeze up. 

I am sure that if you came on an early morning, before the museum has opened, you would find the sculptures dancing, slowly, while hit by the first rays of sun...

To read more, go to website of the museum: Ju Ming museum
This is an outdoor museum so come on a nice day.

The address is 20842 No.2,  Xishihu, Jinshan District, New Taipei City, Taiwan R.O.C - but as I mentioned before that's useless information, unless your taxi driver is English, you need the Chinese address to be able to show to taxi drivers - 20842新北市金山區西勢湖2號 is what you are looking for.

View AK-The Next Chapter - travel and tours in a larger map

By the way: The character "Guan" – 館 – (as in JuMing MeiShuGuan) is a character that is good to learn. It indicates a location, a place, as in a building/business place. You will see it, and use it, a lot, almost like some people use "place" in English when they aren't quite sure which word to use: That Museum place... That food place. And so forth...

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