Artists put mayor in the picture on Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year Festival is traditionally seen as a celebration of Chinese food and performance.

But the Chinese community of Georges River is taking the opportunity to remind the wider community that it is also a celebration of the many aspects of Chinese culture including painting, poetry, calligraphy and craft.

It is the practice of these aspects of their traditional culture that acts as a glue to bring together the Australian-Chinese community, Georges River Councillor Nancy Liu said.

There are many Chinese cultural groups in the Georges River area who are gathered under the umbrella group of Australian Chinese Cultural Associations.

Last week members of various local Chinese community groups joined together to paint a traditional watercolour depicting a Chinese landscape and offering a blessing for Lunar New Year which they presented to Georges River Council.

The painting included a poem: "Here comes the Year of the Rat along with joyful Spring, happiness is knocking at your door, fecilicty is smiling at you."

According to the 2020 Chinese horoscope, the Lunar New Year starts on Saturday, January 25 and ends on February 11, 2021.

The Rat is the first sign from the 12 animals in the cycle of Chinese Astrology, and for this reason 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals.

"Lunar New Year is seen as a festival of food and retail but is also a cultural celebration of art that comes from the grassroots of the Chinese community representing many different expertise," Cr Liu said.

These many groups include the Australia Chinese New Arts Society run by Jenny Gu and Pei Liang Tang.

"We hold regular painting groups at Bayside Council and different types of arts including poetry and philosophy," Jenny said.

"The group is celebrating its 30th year of operation in the local area and has launched a new book 'Too Blue To Be True' which tells the stories of our different members and how they have settled into life in Australia."

The book is bilingual with English text and copies have been donated to Georges River Library service.

The Federation of Australian Chinese Cultural Associations is run by Dr Henry Ho, a writer, who holds regular cultural talks at Rockdale Library.

"Our group was formed to carry on our Chinese traditional culture. We come from the grassroots of the community to promote services for people who want to carry on their cultural traditional but also to get involved in the community," Dr Ho said.

Another local Chinese cultural group is the Australian Calligraphers Association run by Shirley Deng and Harry Wang. The group was formed to practice the art of calligraphy and holds monthly meetings at libraries and community centres and also holds exhibitions.

The Australia Chinese Research Institute is run by William Huang and was established 10 years ago to represent local painters who practice Chinese brush painting of watercolours and landscapes.

Councillor Liu said, "We are lucky to be part of the whole community where people of ethnic backgrounds can combine and support Australian values and luckily can still retain our own cultural traditions."

Georges River Council's Lunar New Year Festival will be held on Saturday 18 January from 10.00am to 5.00pm at Forest Road, Hurstville.