lunar new year

Lunar New Year “White And Blue” Sydney Chinatown Decorations Spark Outrage

We would be interested to know what you all think about this – is it a cultural/traditional taboo or an example of artistic expression?

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As part of the City of Sydney Lunar New Year events, Sydney’s Chinatown has been decked out with decorations. There are some hanging lanterns, artwork and tree decorations in honour of traditional Chinese water vessels for the yin and yang for the Year of the Tiger. However, it is the colour scheme which has sparked controversy among some Chinese Australians and members of the Chinatown business community.

An indirect result of decking out Chinatown with decorations is that if done well it will bring life and business back. Many restaurants and businesses have closed either temporarily or permanantly or are doing it tough since the start of the Pandemic. The controversy around the colour scheme is that the decorations are in blue and white, which are ominous colours in Chinese traditions. “White” is already a no no colour in Lunar New Year superstition as representing the colour of death, and blue and white are seen as funeral colours – very inauspicious for the Lunar New Year.

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Former NSW politician and community leader Helen Sham-Ho – who was the first Chinese born parliamentarian in Australia told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that many people in the Chinese Australian community were:

“saying they don’t want to go Chinatown because they don’t want to go for a funeral”.

Ho, has submitted a complaint to the City of Sydney about the decorations and where the wraps have been removed since, the lanterns are still up. The decorations were designed by Asian Australian artist and creative Susan Chen with whom the City of Sydney commissioned to create the installation. Here is what Chen told the SCMP defending her installation:

“It may seem an unexpected Lunar New Year colour palette to traditionalists, but it is one that is deeply rooted in traditional Chinese motif, and entirely appropriate for the subject matter…”

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What do you all think? Tradition taboo or artistic expression? Let us know!

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