Untitled Space Artist in Residence Program Located in the beautiful and historical Chinese ancient water town- Jinze. The name Jinze literally means “golden water,” referring to its prime location along Dianshan Lake and an interwoven water system of rivers and creeks. The town is surrounded by water with a river, two ports, and a lake all nearby, the town is serene and picturesque with the slow-moving waters and the greenery of overhanging trees creating a calm and comforting scene. The imagery of a small bridge over a running creek harks to the scenery of every Watertown in the Shanghai area. Painters like Chen Yifei (1946-2005) have repeatedly drawn this iconic image. Jinze is a small, peaceful town, with a history dating back more than 1,300 years. Its seven ancient bridges are distinctive in shape and quite well-preserved. Walking along the waterways of Jinze, one gets the sense of time slowing. Here one can see local villagers living in repaired old houses built more than 100 years ago. Their lives don’t seem much changed from 30 years ago. Encapsulates the original setting of an ancient canal town, almost untouched by tourism or real estate developers.
A small bridge, a running creek, huts stand aside
This verses by poet Ma Zhiyuan (1250-1321) are among the best-known and most widely quoted lines to describe a traditional Chinese Watertown.
Jinze was known as the “Town of Bridges” and "Museum of Ancient Bridge" also called the “West Gate of Shanghai” because it sits on the southwestern-most section of the city bordering Zhejiang and Jiangsu Province. Seven ancient bridges cross the main river, each displaying the distinct characteristics of the dynasties during which they were built. It is an old Chinese tradition for a successful person to build roads or bridges in his hometown as a tribute to heritage. To a certain extent, the number and size of bridges in a town reflect its past glory. During its peak, Jinze is said to have had dozens of bridges and one temple astride each bridge. Many were destroyed during warfare and turbulence over the centuries. The ones left standing are a tribute to a golden past. Not only does it boast the oldest stone bridge in Shanghai, but also a royal temple that was once the biggest and most famous in the area. What saves this jewel is its status as a protected watershed, which rules out most commercial development. The protection rules mean that Jinze has escaped the kind of commercial makeover that leaves many Watertowns looking identical and sometimes crass. When the hustle and bustle of the city fade into the distance and pastoral scenes gradually unfold, Jinze Town quietly comes into view.