Year of the Horse Ringing in the Chinese New Year

The Horse Sculpture will feature in New Year’s celebrations | Photo courtesy of Sun Yat Sen GardenIn their second eco-friendly artist-led community art project in collaboration with the Community Art Centre of Vancouver (CACV) and the UBC Learning Exchange program, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is preparing for the exhibition of The Horse Sculpture on Feb. 2, to celebrate the beginning of the new Year of the Horse.

A horse lantern

The Horse Sculpture, conceptualized by artist Heather Jones, is approximately the size of a pony. It was built by a group of ESL students and other members of the general public during a series of workshops under the guidance of the artist. The project received a grant from the BC Creative Communities program.

“The horse was built using all recycled metals: cold forged copper for its mane, tail, chest piece, hooves and its shoulder and hip plates, brass decorative elements and punched and chiseled tin cans for its main body. The framework of the horse was shaped using wire salvaged from an old barn,” says Jones.

The horse’s main body has been perforated, following Chinese calligraphic patterns and images pertaining to personal narratives relating to light and seasonal transition. The eyes, made of green glass, symbolize the Year of the Green Wood Horse, a year of quick victories, unforeseen adventures and eye-lifting romance.

The horse made an early debut in late 2013, as part of the Winter Solstice Festival.

“Magical and mystical were the words used by most visitors of the Dec. 21 winter solstice to describe the horse lantern. It was lit from within and resembled a powerful, mythical animal, suspended in air and ready to take us to some other plane,” says Mirjana Galovich, director of marketing and communications for the Garden.

The temple fair

Now, the horse is making a comeback. For an encore, it will be showcased at the Garden’s Chinese New Year celebrations on Feb. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jones says, “It will be rolled in a wooden cart and carry a branch in its mouth during the parade. It also has references to forests and wood in some of the key graphics on its hips and shoulders.”

In accordance with the Chinese zodiac, or Shëngxiào, the Horse Sculpture reflects all of nature’s elements.

Many activities showcasing Chinese culture will be held throughout the day to usher in the Year of the Horse. The Chinatown parade will wind through the neighbourhood from approximately 11 1:30 p.m., eventually ending right at the front door of the garden. The garden’s team will be handing out red balloons and white rabbit candy during the parade. Guests will also be greeted by elders from the neighborhood, who will hand out traditional Chinese coins in red pouches.

Within the garden, a traditional Gongfu Tea ceremony will be ongoing, where guests can learn about tea, sample three different kinds and experience the ceremony that accompanies the drink. Kick feathers, a Chinese toy made of coins and rooster feathers, will be played at the event, as participants try to keep the toy in the air as long as possible. Attendees may also see tricks on a diablo, a Chinese yo-yo on two strings instead of one.

Live music will be played, including a multicultural concert performed by Toddish McWong and Friends. Additionally, a pop-up market will sell Year of the Horse souvenirs and noise-makers to add to the ambiance. Guests are encouraged to wear red and donate $5 to not-for-profit garden.

“The garden loves to host the temple fair event. We love to be able to open our doors and act as a bridge between cultures. People come and share in some traditional activities, and we can really promote cultural understanding through the event. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and a great high energy day,” says Terra Dickinson, the garden’s volunteer and public programs coordinator.