The story begins with a tile. With a colorful, elegant pattern, this classic tile can easily be spotted embellishing fireplaces and washrooms on the first and second floors of Taipei Story House. And it has a quintessentially British royal name - the Victorian tile.
Behind the Victorian tile stands the Great Britain's maritime trade a century ago, and how the country landed in Asia with her formidable naval and economic power. To serve his guests and clients from overseas,Chen Chao-chun, the then chairman of Taiwan Tea Merchants Association, built a Tudor-style house - a vogue in Japan at the time - next to the Yuanshan Shrine. This tile, as part of the joyous setting of Chen's villa, witnessed the beginning of Taiwan's traditional trades of tea, sugar, and rice.
Victorian tiles are everywhere in Hong Kong; here we have even more public spaces and buildings named after'Victoria'. In 2003, on an invitation of Dr. Lung Ying-tai, then commissioner of Taipei City Government's Department of Cultural Affairs, Hong Kong-born lawyer Eva Tan sponsored the establishment of Taipei Story House at the former villa. She said nostalgia was one of the reasons that drove her to 'adopt'this legendary building. One day when the old villa was being revitalized with new tiles, Tan picked up a broken Victorian tile at the heritage site and made a wish, that the historic building filled with memories would turn into a story-teller. Eleven years have flown; Taipei Story House has become a mini-museum and a top spot for Hong Kong tourists, in which various tales about Taiwan are gracefully and movingly told.
This year, Taiwan Culture Festival returns with the theme of 'stories', and through organizing a range of activities, including exhibitions, performances, community designs and talks, we once again offer a rich encounter with the arts. In today's fast-paced, ever-changing world, we hope to learn through personal stories that aging buildingsdo not have to be demolished, as 'old' is not always old-fashioned, while memories can be put to novel uses and reinterpreting traditions can bring in new audiences as well. This year happens to be the 130th anniversary of Taipei's historical district Dadaocheng, which, similar to Hong Kong's Sai Ying Pun, used to be a trading dockin its early days. Dadaocheng has now been injected with fresh creativity, attracting a crowd of young, cultured people to hang out there. Indeed, once you get to look into stories of old towns, you will be able to discover new possibilities in our city.
We would especially like to thank UA Finance, HK & Macau Taiwanese Charity Fund Limited, and the Antiquities and Monuments Office, with whose generous support we are able to organize this year's Taiwan Culture Festival in a more comprehensive, in-depth scale. Departing from four directions, namely 'Old Town Revival', 'Grass-roots Memory', 'Creative in Art'and 'Heritage Revitalization', the festival continues to make friends with people in Hong Kong, setting out to create with you a thriving cultural scene through the arts.