Venue Pearl Art Museum (Center of Light Space)
Date 2020.09.18 Friday 19:00-21:00
Speaker Chen Danyan, Hu Yonghong
Organizer Pearl Art Museum
Language Chinese

"Building a wall-free art museum, a mobile art academy" has always been the ideal of the Pearl Art Museum. We have tried to expand the social roles, working methods and boundaries of contemporary cultural and artistic institutions. "In the Name of Flower" is becoming a growing art and cultural brand project under the concept.

At the end of the summer, we extended the exhibition "In the Name of Flower" to Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, and carried out interdisciplinary exchanges in the fields of art, literature, phytoecology, landscape and garden through co-planned lectures and exhibitions, kicking off the cross-boundary cooperation between the Pearl Art Museum and Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden.

In April, Chinese roses bloom in Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden. The Chinese roses and their fragrance protected my shattered life. In a dusk of May, there were fallen petals everywhere on Rose Island, and, blended with the smell of twilight, they made my trip more memorable than ever. That was a special trip memory in 2020.

—Chen Danyan


The Rose Island of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden

The year 2020 marks the 30th year of the well-known writer Chen Danyan’s long-distance travel. But this year, borders were closed around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so she had to cancel all her travel plans for the year. As she was worried about information coming from home and abroad about the pandemic, her old friend Dr. Hu Yonghong, executive director of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, invited her to come and visit the Botanical Garden. So, though she could not travel abroad, she found solace on the Rose Island of the botanical garden.


Overlooking the Rose Island of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden

As a writer and booklover, Chen Danyan knows that many literary classics have elements of roses, such as The Little Prince and The Three Musketeers. But when she walked into the botanical garden, she found that many rose names were also literary—Madame Butterfly, Chagall, Tchaikovsky, Juliet, Roald Dahl... It turns out that they were related long ago.


Chen Danyan (right) and Dr. Hu Yonghong on the Rose Island

"In fact, botanical gardens are part of urban life, not part of rural life. Botanical gardens are needed in cities." Dr. Hu Yonghong, executive director of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, said to Chen Danyan. How people build botanical gardens in cities reflects how people view the world. Many botanical gardens around the world are deeply influenced by the Kew Gardens, but the ten-year-old Chenshan Botanical Garden is trying to establish its own understanding of the botanical world.


Chen Danyan on the Rose Island

After being invited to be the cultural director of Chenshan Botanical Garden, Chen Danyan will learn about a plant from botanists in the garden every year and hand in an assignment at the end of each year. This year is her first year as the cultural director, she chooses rose as her research object, and she will write about the 60 species of roses on the Rose Island of Chenshan Botanical Garden, some related to her travels and some related to literature and art. But either way, she hopes to help people living in cities explore the connection between nature, literature and life with a tender heart.

On September 18th (this Friday evening), Chen Danyan, a well-known writer and cultural director of Chenshan Botanical Garden, and Dr. Hu Yonghong, executive director of Chenshan Botanical Garden, will come to the Heart Hall of Pearl Art Museum, and tell about Chenshan Botanical Garden, a haven in our city, from different perspectives, and tell stories about plants, literature, and travel.

胡永红 博士

Dr. Hu Yonghong
Professor-level senior engineer, and executive director of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden

He has long engaged in the research of urban phytoecology, and is committed to using plants to improve the microenvironment of cities, so that urban dwellers have more opportunities to get close to nature. Having worked and lived in Shanghai for more than 20 years, he has a deep affection for the city. His biggest dream is to transform Shanghai into a beautiful park. He is the author of the Solutions to Urban Greening in the Built Environment (2012-2019), covering greening technologies for roofs, walls, roads and squares, which can be used for urban ecological renewal.


Chen Danyan
Well-known writer and cultural director of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden

She is the author of novels A Girl and Snow White's Resume, and won the UNESCO Gold Award for Literature for Tolerance (1997). She is the author of Shanghai's non-fiction trilogy Shanghai Memorabilia, bund non-fiction trilogy The Bund, Image and Legend, and a series of twelve books on Chen Danyan's travel literature (1990-2018), including Land of Dream Catcher. She is the Serbia-China Tourism Ambassador. In May 2020, Chen Danyan became the cultural director of Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden.

《白雪公主的简历》 陈丹燕 著  浙江文艺出版社 出版

Snow White's Resume by Chen Danyan, published by Zhejiang Literature and Art Publishing House

"The Story of Rose"

In 2020, borders were closed around the world, so my long-term visa was "temporarily invalidated". In the need of physical and mental contact with nature, I visited the director of the botanical garden, which was closed. The biggest difference between an empty botanical garden and an empty street is that the plants comfort the restless mind with their own perfection. Plants grow, bloom and reproduce in the garden with an elegance that transcends the wild. It is just like the Garden of Eden in the Bible. The complete curve of nature's movement on leaves and petals is God's fingerprint.


In 2013, she went to Hugo’s Former Residence in Paris and saw the portrait of Hugo's lover Juliet Drouet. Hugo supported her for 45 years, never separating but never together. They loved each other, but also hurt each other. She is grey-haired in the portrait on the wall of the living room of Hugo's Former Residence. Is her story more ordinary than that of the Juliet in Shakespeare’s drama, who died for love at a young age? This grey-haired Juliet was in real life.


In 2017 when the world was still in good shape, I was preparing a novel about a woman traveling. For the structure of a box-like Chinese novel and infinite intertextuality between the novel and photos, I went to Vienna, Galway and Mainz to take photos of roses, but they were not good enough. That year, I went to Chenshan Botanical Garden to look for roses for the first time, because the book was to be exquisitely designed.

It was in May, and the Rose Garden was full of vibrant roses. At dusk, there was a thick layer of fallen petals. On that evening, I saw an elegant German rose called Snow White. At that time, I didn’t know that the novel that I was preparing with words and pictures bore the tragedy and gloom of Snow White. Nor did I know that the novel was heading towards desperate love, youth and ideals, and I didn't know that the essence of life in desperation was so important. That turned out to be the story of Snow White's Resume. In 2020 when the familiar and friendly world fell apart, I would return to the Rose Garden with the published Snow White's Resume.