We like to celebrate our hardworking team of volunteers whenever possible here at Ricefield. Every December we come together for our annual Christmas party, this year held at Garnethill Multicultural Centre. We shared food, Secret Santa gifts, music and learned more about Christmas with a tricky festive quiz. We also, of course, awarded our volunteer certificates. See all the award winners below!
Christmas Style Mile Carnival
On Sunday 26 November Ricefield Arts was delighted to take part in the Glasgow Christmas Style Mile Carnival. Ricefield’s theme was Christmas bells, and our float and costumes were designed and made by hand by some of our very talented artists. Here volunteer Lee Yutung has written about her experience as a performer:
It was a busy Tuesday for the Ricefield Team, preparing our costumes for the coming carnival! We were using our imagination to decorate the clothes and to make our own unique piece. Every one was a designer and an artist! Thank you to all the talented people who joined us and inspired each other to make such wonderful costumes.
Glasgow’s winter is cold and the snow gave us a hint that Christmas is coming! Luckily, the sun showed its smiling face on Sunday 28November.
Ricefield volunteers dressed as gold bells, with silver eye shadow decorating our eyes, gold powder decorating our cheeks, and small gold balls and a garland with berries decorating our hair. We were all excited and looked forward to joining the afternoon winter parade!
We moved to Argyle Street at 2:30 pm and waited for the parade to start. Other volunteers were also waiting there and were rehearsing. Every team had its own theme. Some dressed like medieval singers with a walking stick in their hands and some dressed as angels with snow white costumes. Some children played Oliver Twist, dressed with black dust on their faces and some kids dressed as little eagles with a mask covering their faces.
Many fancy parade floats were displayed on the street,alongside the performers. Our theme was the Christmas golden bell. Therefore, our volunteers carefully prepared two big red bells with silver belts and some decorative gold patterns and used the artificial green leaves to tie the bells together. The golden bell is always an indispensable element of Christmas. The design we created mixed in Chinese elements. Red colour in China symbolises good fortune, especially when it is used in festivals.
The bell led our team through the parade as our float. We danced freely by following the music played by the drummers ahead of us. We were smiling and waved to the people standing on the side of the road and gave them high fives. We had a dancing mascot made by Yuen at the top of a flagstick which attracted the audience’s attention, particularly children, who waved and said hi to it.
We followed the crowds on the route, dancing to the music as happy gold bells celebrating Christmas time. People on the road sides also waved to us and smiled. Everyone enjoyed the carnival as there’s only happiness in the festive world.
Visit Glasgow Loves Christmas for more information about winter celebrations in the city. Thanks to Bridgeman Arts for their support.
Volunteer Day Trip to Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
We hold regular events to say thank you to our volunteers for their amazing contributions throughout the year, and this one was certainly special. On Saturday 16 September, the team headed into the woods, where we learned about trees, foraging and wooden carving.
Ricefield volunteer Joey Humble has shared his experience (as well as his impressive knowledge of plant names!):
On a grey and windy Sunday morning a group of somewhat eager volunteers assembled under the gaze of the stone lions of Glasgow’s George square, and wondered what activities would they perform today? Teaching children how to make paper lanterns? Or perhaps demonstrating calligraphy to Glasweigians? Au contraire, for once, they were to be treated to a day of relaxation and countryside leisure as a reward for a year’s work promoting Chinese culture.
We started the day out by taking a minibus north to Cashel woodland forest located near Loch Lomond. There we met with our woodland guide, Paul from Green Aspirations Scotland, who led us through the forest and identified many different plants, trees and fungi. We explored a patch of silver birch trees and discovered the bright red fly agaric mushroom which is apparently psychedelic. We walked along the enchanting woodland path past holly and brooms bushes and our guide presented us with wood sorrel which is an edible herb with a refreshing flavour. We then peered up to an ancient and mighty oak tree so large and towering that its branches were bent and broken due to their weight, and looking down we found little oak seedlings daring to display their lobed leaves above the moist fertile earth. Our guide was very enthusiastic to find a hazel tree, which has been used for various crafts for thousands of years in the UK. We passed through a small private orchard with short waist-height apple trees holding surprisingly large bright red apples, which we learned are called ‘Bloody Ploughman’ apples. Later while marching through the woodland we found a ferny glade, there stood a gnarled leafless tree heavy with lichen and mosses, which our guide told us was a crabapple tree. On closer inspection this dead looking old tree bore several tiny green apples which tasted sour.
After an enjoying morning walk in the forest we ate pizzas in Balmaha’s Oak Tree restaurant and took photos by Loch Lomond with the ducks and boats in view. In the afternoon we went to Tir Na Nog, single file we followed a meandering path past a tepee and an old manor house and through a forest decorated with hanging wooden spoons of all sorts of sizes and intricate styles. We assembled inside a large wooden cabin with open walls giving views of the woodland on all sides and a cast-iron kettle heating on a wooden fire. We diligently carved spoons from chunks of aspen wood using axes, saws, knives and gougers; all the tools were readily available on a large table and we were given detailed instructions and assistance (thankfully there was a first kit on hand).
We learned so much about the forest and wood craft on this special day. A wonderful time was had by all.
Ricefield Arts joined the first Glasgow Canal Festival on Saturday 22 July. We had a great day teaching visitors how to make their own origami boats, as well as hosting our second Chinese Craft Fair. Team Ricefield even made an appearance on the water, as part of the Dragon Boat racing.
Ricefield volunteer Ulyana wrote about her experience as part of the Dragon Boat race team:
On July 22nd, thanks to Ricefield Arts and Glasgow Canal Festival, I got to try Dragon Boat Racing for the first time, and take part in a competition. It was great to challenge myself again, to fight my fears and have some fun. And, of course, to get involved in the competitive atmosphere.
I am very glad to have met new people, and to communicate and work in a team. Because this was a new experience for most of us, the event was even more special and fun. I really enjoyed taking part and have made even more memories from my time in Glasgow. I would recommend the sport to anyone.
Find out more about what’s happening at Glasgow’s canal here.
Glasgow Mela 2017
Last week Ricefield Arts and Culture Centre took part in Glasgow Mela Festival, one of our biggest events of the year, and once again it was a great success! Chinese arts and culture could be found throughout Kelvingrove Park; from the Kids Zone and our merchandise and historical clothing stall, to the Band Stand where the audience enjoyed a traditional Mongolian dance performance. Visitors walking through the festival could also witness a Lion Dance performed by Yee’s Hung Ga Edinburgh Kung Fu, and street theatre in collaboration with Surge performed by our brave volunteers. Even the rain couldn’t dampen our high spirits.
The Kids Zone was filled with different art and craft stations. Children showed off their creative skills in making lanterns, flowers, and fans out of card and paper. Many took part in our colouring competition and with so many great entries, our judges had a hard time choosing a winner! In the end, we were pleased to announce Zainab as the winner of a free art workshop. Our wish tree was also filled with imaginative aspirations.
Visitors to the festival enjoyed an intriguing street theatre performance of Overseasoned with our confused ‘chefs’ shuffling through the crowds and getting up to mischief. The performance brought more cheerfulness to the festival with many stopping to watch, laugh and take photos, though some poor spectators did have a couple of chips taken by the hungry chefs. The Lion Dance also offered a more traditional Chinese show, and children had the chance to try out playing the drums.
Over at the Band Stand, the audience were treated to an amazing traditional Mongolian dance presentation by dancers from the Glasgow Oriental Dancing Association. Some members of the audience may have been unfamiliar with this style of dance but the girls achieved a great applause. The beautiful dance and colourful outfits were a definite joy to watch.
Down at our merchandise stall, visitors had the chance to try out calligraphy and wear traditional Chinese clothing! Many were also interested in the Chinese opera masks, lanterns, kites and hanging charms. The coveted red envelope raffle prize went to Evelyn, who received a bag full of Chinese treats. Congratulations! Thanks to all our volunteers and everyone who joined us at Glasgow Mela Festival 2017. It was a great success and we hope to see you at our upcoming events!
This blog was written by Ricefield Arts volunteer, Jenna Lau.
This video was produced by Ricefield Arts volunteer, Jiawei Song.
For more Glasgow Mela 2017 photos head over to our Facebook page.
Mela On Your Doorstep 2017
Ricefield Arts was delighted to take part in this year’s Mela on Your Doorstep events, this year in Sighthill on 13 May, and Netherton on 14 May. We will be at the main event, Glasgow Mela on 2 July in Kelvingrove with a range of craft activities for all the family, performances and a stall with Chinese produce. Find out more about Glasgow Mela here.
While you’re waiting, take a look at the fun we had in Sighthill and Netherton.
Volunteer Appreciation Spring 2017
Throughout the year Ricefield Arts holds events to say thank you to our amazing team of volunteers. Here is a selection from our April 2017 celebration at Committee Room No.9.
Earth Hour 2017 Event
Chinese New Year 2017 Celebrations at Kelvin Hall and Kelvingrove Museum
Celebrating Chinese New Year is always a highlight in Ricefield’s busy calendar, and this year was certainly no exception. We worked with Kelvin Hall and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to plan a fun afternoon with drop-in craft workshops for families, and a showcase of various interactive traditional Chinese indoor and outdoor games for the local communities.
The event on Sunday 5th February was also a personal highlight for me, as this was the first time I’ve been able to volunteer with Ricefield and the amazing team during the Spring Festival period. I turned up excited to learn more!
Our team of over 20 volunteers and I started setting up at 10am, getting Kelvin Hall’s sports hall fit for a party. Lanterns were hung, and the red tablecloths were out. The fortune cookies were waiting and the music was on. At 12pm we were ready to go.
I worked at the Welcome Table (lacking any sort of sporting skill) and visitors had a serious challenge facing them when they arrived. Ricky the Rooster was looking for his 11 zodiac animal friends, and you could collect them by trying each of the activities on offer. Families were sent off with their sticker sheets on a mission!
First stop was the Wishing Tree, to collect the snake. Traditionally wishes and hopes for the new year are written and tied on to the tree, and the higher it is hung the more likely it is to come true. We had some lovely messages wishing for health and happiness, several lego and Rapunzel set requests, and my favourite for ‘a whole year of pizza’.
My personal favourite activity in Kelvin Hall was Catching Seven Pieces (抓石子). Else, Ricefield’s Chair, remembered playing this traditional game as a child with a collection of pebbles, and she was definitely the expert. We played this time around small pouches of rice, and players used their strategy and dexterity to juggle and try to catch all seven. I was pretty awful, but I’ll be practicing for next year!
Also on offer was a Chopsticks Challenge, where visitors tested their kuaizi skills against increasingly small and fiddly objects. Maybe we’ll stick to noodles in the future. On the next table over you could try Tangram (七巧板). This game was invented in China during the Song Dynasty, and has grown in popularity in Europe after first being brought here by trading ships in the 19th century. Players try to rearrange flat shapes to create new images and patterns. Simple to understand, but hard to master. There was also a Memory Game with the famous red envelopes given as presents at Chinese New Year. The colour red is a symbol of good luck, and the gift is given to ward off evil spirits. Players tried to match the red envelopes into pairs, in a special new year version of the game often played here with cards.
Classic Chinese board games such as Chinese Chequers (中国跳棋) and The Game of Go (围棋) were in full swing, and some of our volunteers were outsmarted by some very well-practiced children. I learned more about Go, and was particularly impressed that is the oldest board game still being played today, having been invented in China approximately 2,500 years ago. In ancient times it was considered one of the four essential arts of aristocratic society. We’re very sophisticated here at Ricefield!
Our more athletic visitors played a Shuttlecock Game (踢毽子) and Ping Pong (乒乓球), joined by two trainees from Kelvin Hall. There was also Bamboo Dancing (竹竿舞), accompanied by the sound of drums. This dance requires some skill, as dancers follow and step along with the rhythmic movement of the bamboo poles. This dance is popular with the Chinese Li minority ethic group, where the dancing can last late into the night on special occasions. It seemed that our visitors were no strangers to the dance floor.
Over the road in Kelvingrove Museum the celebrations continued. Families had a chance to try some New Year-themed crafts, including decorating a lion head with Ricefield co-founder Lin and making dragon puppets to take home. Both creatures are very important symbols, with Chinese guardian lions (狮) having strong protective powers, and the dragon representing power, strength and good fortune. All very important components for a successful year!
After this journey, visitors returned to the wishing tree, to unite Ricky with his zodiac animal friends and be rewarded with a fortune cookie for all their hard work. It was great to see everyone’s enthusiasm and to hear how much they’d enjoyed all the new experiences. I bet we have some Game of Go fans playing on their mobile phone now!
This event marks almost one year of my volunteering with Ricefield, and it made for a great anniversary. Bringing together the whole team of volunteers, ranging from students from China and beyond studying in Glasgow, to Glaswegians looking to learn some more about Chinese culture, was a great display of Ricefield’s diversity. I’ve learned so much over this past year (my origami skills have never been better!), and met some interesting people. Its the mixed talents of this team that made this Chinese New Year event such a success and made the long day of work very worthwhile.
What a way to start my own zodiac year. 新年快乐！
This post was written by Ricefield volunteer Laura Matheson.
To see more images from our 2017 Chinese New Year event, please visit our Facebook page.
Watch the video below for a taste of our Chinese New Year event. Video produced by Ricefield volunteer, Jarvis Gray.