This project came to shape during the Arts-in-Residence in Neng Sheng Xing factory (Tainan), where I attempted to cultivate flowers that show the pattern of a Taiwanese traditional calico fabric and hoped to probe into local history of its industry development and self-identity seeking.
The printed cloth featured in this project was obtained from my grandmother’s hand-made clothes for me in my childhood at Tainan. She was used to be a tailor and owned a shop combining a tailor working space with a cloth house. Her shop was in between a lace factory and a food processing factory; it’s quite interesting for me to found the fact that these two factories happened to be deeply involved into the developing history of Neng Sheng Xing factory when it was still called “Yuan Fa textile factory” before transforming into an international art space nowadays.
These facts motivated me to take the textile industry history around the Neng Sheng Xing’s neighborhood as the project’s axis, and therefore, I decided to find some flower-patterned calico fabric among the street here. I found that a kind of low-priced flower-patterned cotton calico fabric was used to be mass-produced in this neighborhood. Even before advanced Japanese textile equipment was imported into Taiwan, the local textile factory owners had attempted to refer to existing foreign calico fabric to make their own design, and these Taiwan-made calico fabric have been widely used in daily commodities, such as: bamboo hat, for instance. After all these long years of textile technology development, Taiwan still conserves the flower-patterned calico fabric as one of the textile industry’s traditional item.
The pattern of the calico fabric my grandmother had used for making my clothes was probably not the factory owners’ hand-designed one mentioned above; however, it might be another variant manufactured by other local factories. After the field research on the streets, I have asked for the assistance of the Floriculture Research Office of the Agricultural Research and Extension Station; the staff analyzed the flower pattern on the calico fabric and inferred a possible breed of the flower. And finally, with another flower breeding amateur’s assistance, the cultivation of the flower out of the calico fabric was achieved eventually.
(This is a rough translation of the original in Chinese)