Shanghai and the festival of creativity

Written by Julian Sykes
Shanghai image collection A few weeks ago I was invited to visit Shanghai for the festival of Creativity. It followed on from a project called UNLOCK which was run from the Watershed in Bristol and brought Chinese and Uk based businesses together to understand potential collaborations. It was my first time in China so I was looking forward to getting to understand more about the culture and what opportunities there might be for us. After 21 hours travelling we managed to go for a walk around the Bund area of the city near our hotel. The first day we met up with some of the people we met back in Bristol. There looks to be some great opportunities to work with the group in the future so I'm looking forward to future trips to the region. After these meetings we then went to the festival situated at the other end of the city. It was full of British brands trying to sell into the huge Chinese market. For us as a company the festival was a bit beyond us due to the scale and exhibitors were mainly clients we work with already within the UK. It was interesting to understand how the UK sees it's strategy to sell into China and this felt to jar slightly with how I view the creative scene within the UK (but perhaps more on that in another blog post). After the festival we managed to get out and see a bit more of the city. The next day we went to a section of the city that housed the Chronos gallery. It had a 360ยบ projection room which when coupled with 3D glasses was incredibly immersive. The gallery was part of larger complex with a number of other small galleries and creative studios. What struck me about the place and in many ways the rest of Shanghai was just how friendly and familiar it felt. It was easy to imagine some of the areas being in Amsterdam, Bristol or even London. I guess the only real difference is perhaps the scale of things. It's hard to comprehend a city housing over 16 million people and yet feeling relatively calm and peaceful. It would be good to visit again when perhaps it is a little warmer and see if there would be more people out and about.