From Viet Nam News:
Artists to transform ordinary wall into cultural expression
By Nguyen My Ha
Publication Date: 08-05-2007
To one team of artists, the grey-coloured dike tracing the Hong (Red) River means more than flood protection: it’s a symbol of progress and an opportunity for innovation.
That’s why the group has gathered in a stilt house along the Cau River in Bac Ninh Province, to contemplate ideas, methods and even mathematical formulas for carrying out an ambitious project to transform the visually unappealing cement dike into a public work of art.
The mastermind behind the project is Nguyen Thu Thuy, a journalist and layout artist at the weekly magazine Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi).
Thuy addressed the artists who had gathered to discuss Con Duong Gom Su Ven Song Hong, The Ceramic Road along the Red River, the project to adorn the dike with a colourful mosaic. …
As the project is still in its early stages, meeting attendees, including American ceramic artist Joel Bennett, tossed out ideas about how exactly the mosaic should be designed.
“I suggest a section of the wall that calls on artists from around the world to send in tiles with messages to Ha Noi and a section of the wall dedicated to children around the world,” said Bennett, owner of Joel Bennett Studio in Forestville, California, and teacher of ceramics at Santa Rosa Community College.
A Viet Nam War protester in the US in the 1970s, Bennett has been to Viet Nam five times before, holding an exhibition in Ha Noi and participating in a ceramic symposium in the town of Viet Tri in 2005.
Thuy had her own ideas about the design of the project.
“On the two sides of the bridge, I visualise two ascending dragons in the Ly dynasty style, to commemorate the Ly King and the millennial anniversary of Ha Noi,” she said.
According to Vietnamese legend, when King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu, a small town in the mountains, to Dai La Citadel, he saw a giant dragon ascending into the sky.
Hence he renamed the citadel Thang Long, meaning Ascending Dragon.
How much better this is than when the dikes around Hanoi were bombed during the Vietnam war …