Yingge Pottery Town
All You Want to Know About Molding and Firing Clay
The small town of Yingge , a 30-minute train ride south of Taipei City, is always a nice place to visit for those interested in pottery and ceramics, but once a year there is an additional reason to head to the "Pottery Capital of Taiwan" - the Yingge International Ceramics Festival . The festival, this year scheduled from October 6 through 29, features exhibitions, pottery demonstrations, classes, guided tours, and a rich program of stage performances.
Text / Kurt Weidner
Photos / Yingge Ceramics Museum
Most of the festival activities take place in and around the modernistic Yingge Ceramics Museum , which opened in 2000 and has since been the pride of Yingge's citizens. A gem of architectural creativity in its own right, the museum introduces visitors to the history of pottery in Taiwan, the development of pottery in Yingge, the steps in producing pottery, the many different pottery types and applications, and much more. With the help of bilingual Chinese-English info plates, video showings, and optional audio-equipment, the last of which can be rented on the first floor, going through the exhibition halls is a rewarding educational experience. On the upper level the museum regularly organizes temporary exhibitions of artworks by local and foreign master potters. Outside the museum are a number of installation artworks worth a look. On the basement level you'll find a cafeteria, as well as meeting and workshop rooms where DIY courses and seminars on pottery are staged on a regular basis.
Ceramics Old Street
Beside the museum, the festival's other main venue and another of Yingge's tourist attractions is Ceramics Old Street , a pedestrian section of Jianshanpu Road lined with numerous outlets selling ceramic products. To reach Ceramics Old Street from the Ceramics Museum, just follow Wunhua Road to the town center. Bear left after the railway bridge and walk uphill for about 200 meters. If driving, note there is also a parking lot here.
The shops along Ceramics Old Street sell almost everything made of fired clay, from simple earthen flutes for the kids (about NT$50) to 7-foot vases for your living room (if you live in a palace, that is) that can cost millions of NT dollars. This is a great place to browse and admire pottery objects (many pieces of which are worthy of being exhibited in museums) and to shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs. The amazing range of styles, shapes, colors, and purposes of usage ensures that every shopper finds a treasure to his liking. Among the most popular items are rice bowls, mugs, vases, flowerpots, decorative items, and tea utensils. If you can't find anything that tickles your fancy here, try one of the many other pottery outlets scattered about Yingge - after all, there are nearly 800 ceramics makers and shops in town. Many of these establishments also offer tours of their workshops, allowing you to get an idea of the production process. If you want to try making pottery yourself, many also offer DIY experience classes where you can mold clay and paint your creations before they are fired.
Demonstrations and DIY Opportunities
An important part of the festival are the on-site demonstrations by local and international ceramists who show the crowds how ceramics are created. Witness how masters of their craft realize their ideas in clay and see how the approaches of Western and Eastern artists differ.
If you are a "hobby potter" there is plenty of opportunity to get hands-on experience in creating ceramic art. Kids especially have a whole lot of fun just playing with the clay and trying to shape it into something beautiful, and recognizable, on a turning wheel. The most exciting part, however, is when it comes to firing the objects in specially constructed mini-kilns on site.
During the festival, information centers are set up at various locations, including the Ceramics Museum, Ceramics Park, Yingge Railway Station, and Ceramics Old Street (Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. ~ 5 p.m.; weekends and holidays 9:30 ~ 6 p.m.; tickets sold until half an hour before closing).
Sanying Cultural Bus: During the festival visitors can make use of a special bus service (bus ticket included in the Festival Pass), which stops at many points of interest in Yingge and nearby Sansia.
Festival Service Hotline: (02) 8677-2727, ext. 710, 711
For the latest info on festival activities, visit the Ceramics Museum website at www.ceramics.tpc.gov.tw
|Festival Pass (including Museum Entrance and Game Ticket)||Adults||NT$100|
|One-Day Tickets on weekends and holidays (including Sanying Cultural Bus)||NT$99|
Getting There from Taipei
- By Train
- The easiest way to get to Yingge is to take the train. From Taipei Railway Station it takes about half an hour and costs you NT$31 or NT$37 depending on the type of train. From Yingge station it's a 10-minute walk to either the Yingge Ceramics Museum or Ceramics Old Street.
- By MRT / Bus
- Take the MRT Bannan Line (Blue line) to its western terminus (Yongning Station). From there take bus No. 917 to Yingge. The bus ride, part of which is on National Freeway No. 3 , takes only about 10 minutes. Get off at the first stop after crossing Sanying Bridge if you want to visit the museum. The museum is the modern, gray glass and steel building on the left side of the road.
- By Car
- Take Freeway No. 3 to the Sansia-Yingge exit. After crossing Sanying Bridge you'll see the Ceramics Museum on the left-hand side of Wunhua Rd. There are car parks across Wunhua Rd. from the museum, on either side of its intersection with Huanhe Road.