New art partnership set to support Chinese business links

Tuesday 3 December 2013

A new partnership between the University of Salford and Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art has been launched with a key aim of supporting the region’s businesses in developing and enhancing trade links with China.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s current trade visit to China and Chancellor George Osborne’s and Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s recent trips have highlighted the increasing importance of Chinese investment to the British economy and the opportunities available to UK firms in the Far East.

Professor Nigel Mellors, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, was part of the Manchester China Forum delegation, accompanying the Chancellor in October, which was involved in the Manchester Airport £800m investment announcement.

And now the University’s partnership with the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, which will involve the creation of new artworks from some of China’s most exciting and internationally renowned artists, intends to position the North West of England to Chinese investors and trade organisations as a region which understands their culture and is open for business.

The partnership will involve the co-commissioning of pieces of Chinese contemporary art which will be exhibited at the Centre before forming a new permanent collection at the University. The collection will be available for loan to regional museums and art galleries, underlining the growing importance of, and interest in, Chinese contemporary art.

The partnership will also establish a national Curating China Network to support curators and artists across the country in developing links with Chinese artists and arts organisations.

Sarah Fisher, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Director, explained: “Dominant and ascendant economies have always wanted to see their culture reflected in the countries with which they do most business – just look at England in the 19th Century and the US in the last century.

“Most economists agree that this is the ‘Chinese century’ and I’ve heard comments from major economists and policy makers alike saying that long-term trust is built on cultural understanding, respect and exchange. At the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art we have witnessed an extraordinary growth in the international market for Chinese contemporary art over recent years.

“Whilst the growth figures are unprecedented, they are not a surprise, as contemporary art has always flourished in future-facing economies. We are delighted that the University of Salford has joined us in reflecting the UK’s interest in contemporary China and supporting access to Chinese contemporary art nationally.”

Colin McCallum, Executive Director, University Advancement, said: “We already have strong academic ties with partners across China and an office in Beijing, and Salford Business School is particularly attractive for Chinese students, but we believe the partnership with the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art can also benefit regional business.

“Our collection will include some of the most innovative and thought-provoking works coming out of the Chinese contemporary art scene, which is an area of huge interest for Chinese entrepreneurs.

“This year 10 of our students will work with local businesses in Salford and travel to China next summer for one month internships in Chinese businesses. Through reflecting and embracing an aspect of Chinese culture which resonates so strongly with leading Chinese businesspeople, we think the art partnership could prove an important tool in showcasing the opportunities available to Chinese investors in the North West and open up channels of communication for regional business looking to develop their links with Chinese counterparts.”

The partnership’s first co-commissioned work, a new film entitled Haze and Fog by Beijing-based multimedia artist Cao Fei, is on show at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1EU, until Sunday 8 December.

A zombie movie set in modern-day China, Haze and Fog focuses on the burgeoning Chinese middle classes and their lives in a society which is radically different than that experienced by their parents. For further information go to

Keep up with the latest news from the University of Salford at our Twitter feed or Facebook page.