Day 49: Yiran Duan

I stumbled across today’s creative feminist (@yicraftslondon on Instagram) and her work at a craft fair last Christmas and I realised pretty quickly what a special find this was. Yiran’s work is as much dyed and soaked in her cultural tradition as it is the natural pigments she uses to colour them. I am utterly thrilled to share her unique work, story and practice with you all.

Please may you introduce yourself and your practice.
I am Yiran (@yicraftslondon), a member of Bai ethnic minority in Southwestern China. I founded YICRAFTS in 2019 to offer experiences of learning Chinese traditional cultural heritage crafts in the UK.

How did you develop your practice?
I grew up in my hometown with my family indigo dye courtyard and I started learning traditional handcrafts by helping my family. I came to study in the UK 5 years ago and specialise in Costume. I explore communication between the East and the West and my practice has focused on how to combine traditional elements from Chinese ethnic minority costume with Western techniques to explore intercultural connections. I’m based in London now to continue my practice and offer workshops to teach people cultural handcrafts.

What inspires you and why do you love your practice?
Intercultural sharing is constant and often unconscious throughout our daily lives, and hand crafts are the physical embodiment of culture and cultural sharing.

As a member of Bai ethnic minority, I have experienced the great diversity within the UK and London, but I have found that the diverse cultures of China’s numerous ethnic minorities are underrepresented, with ‘China’ viewed as a single cultural source.

What does it mean to you to be a creative feminist?
The opportunity to introduce and share the unique and sometimes surprising customs, traditions and practices of my home province inspires me. It provides the chance to understand both commonalities and differences in culture and to understand our shared history.

The majority of artisans in my hometown actually are female, but they are facing a lot of challenges to keep those traditional handcrafts going. So, I started my own business to help them share our unique cultural crafts to a western audience. I think that’s the most meaningful part to me as a creative feminist.

I find Yiran’s mission to share her community’s original craft with us all inspirational. And I, for one, feel very lucky to have witnessed and benefited from Yiran’s mission. Please help support Yiran in her mission by following her page @yicraftslondon, supporting her business and by commenting your thoughts below. Thank you for sharing your culture’s traditional handcrafts with us Yiran, this has been a true gift.

If you are interested in taking part in one of Yiran’s workshops or purchasing any of her work featured below you can do so via her website: www.yiranduan.com.

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