Chinese and British
Free exhibition exploring British Chinese communities and culture opens at the British Library and in public libraries across the UK.
Comprising handwritten letters, photographs and oral histories, this free exhibition (18 November – 23 April 2023) draws on personal stories and moments of national significance to ask what it means to be Chinese and British. The exhibition is supported by Blick Rothenberg.
From the first recorded individuals arriving from China in the late 1600s to Europe’s first Chinatown being established in Liverpool during the 1850s, Chinese people, who trace their heritage to regions across east and southeast Asia, have played an active part in British society for over 300 years.
Chinese and British celebrates the lasting impact of Chinese communities in the UK, from wartime service and contributions to popular cuisine to achievements in literature, sport, music, fashion and film. It presents personal stories and artefacts from Chinese British communities alongside books, manuscripts and maps from the Library’s collections.
- A hand-drawn map of China by Shen Fuzong, the first recorded Chinese person to visit the UK in 1687
- Personal memorabilia including a detailed doll’s house model of a Chinese takeaway
- Ling Shuhua’s 1953 autobiography, Ancient Melodies, dedicated to Virginia Woolf who encouraged her writing and offered advice on drafts of her memoir
- A fan made of bamboo slats and paper from mulberry bark in Hangzhou and pair of hand-embroidered shoes belonging to Kathy Hall, a London-based practitioner of traditional Chinese opera
- Trench art produced by Chinese Labour Corps workers during World War I
- Cigarette cards featuring Frank Soo, the first player of Chinese origin to play in the English Football League
- Rosanna Lee’s 2022 film Parallel following a family during their weekly ritual of going out for dim sum filmed at the Pearl Dragon restaurant in Southend-on-Sea
Dr Lucienne Loh, Reader in English Literature at the University of Liverpool and co-curator of Chinese and British, said:
“Chinese and British at the British Library is an incredible opportunity to celebrate the diverse contributions to British society by under-represented communities through personal stories of survival and success.”
Winnie Cao, Partner at Blick Rothenberg, said:
“Chinese and British is a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about the history and personal stories over the last three centuries showcasing the bridge of cultures and inspirational endeavours, which we still witness every day at Blick Rothenberg working with people and clients from diverse backgrounds. We are incredibly proud to support this unique exhibition at the British Library.”
Public libraries will also be hosting the Chinese and British exhibition across the UK, from Aberdeen and Exeter to Bournemouth and Belfast, through a series of displays simultaneously opening in over 30 towns and cities via the Living Knowledge Network. A programme of regional events will also showcase the rich history of Chinese British communities across the UK.
Chinese and British has been curated by Dr Lucienne Loh at the University of Liverpool and Dr Alex Tickell at the Open University in collaboration with the British Library.
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About the British Library
We are the national library of the UK and we are here for everyone. Our shelves hold over 170 million items – a living collection that gets bigger every day. Although our roots extend back centuries, we aim to collect everything published in the UK today, tomorrow and far into the future. Our trusted experts care for this collection and open it up for everyone to spark new discoveries, ideas and to help people do incredible things.
We have millions of books, and much more besides. Our London and Yorkshire sites hold collections ranging from newspapers and maps to sound recordings, patents, academic journals, as well as a copy of every UK domain website and blog. Our public spaces provide a place to research, to meet friends, to start up a new business or simply to get inspired by visiting our galleries and events. We work with partners and libraries across the UK and the world to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to use and explore our collections, events and expertise. And we’re always open online, along with more and more of our digitised collection.
About Blick Rothenberg
Blick Rothenberg is a tax, accounting and business advisory firm that puts its people and client relationships first.Their partner-led approach ensures that clients receive high quality service from a team of high quality people. Combining technical expertise with personal integrity, they offer audit, accounting and business advisory services, as well as advice on corporate and personal tax matters. They build strong, long-lasting relationships and recognise every client is unique, so that they can recommend bespoke, integrated solutions.