Decoding Royal Traditional Arts: Art Youth Summer Camp

Participants with tutors, Will Riding and Ran Li

Fourteen students from across China participated in a two week Youth Summer Camp developed and taught in collaboration with the Palace Museum in Beijing. The Summer Camp concluded with an exhibition of the students' work at the historical Palace Museum’s Forbidden City Gallery.

The course was taught both in Suzhou and Beijing. In the first week, students learned about the distinctive traditional designs of the famous summer gardens of Suzhou, including the Lingering Garden and the Pavilion of Surging Waves. Students learnt about the history of the gardens during study visits lead by a local expert, and were then guided by our tutors through a series of drawing sessions concentrating on the geometric and stylised motifs of the unique window screens, stone laid floors, and their relationship to the planted flora of the gardens.

The second week took place at the Palace Museum in Beijing. Students were guided by Palace Museum experts to tour its gardens and buildings, learning about the architectural features and painted motifs of different periods of the Museum's long history. Tutors from the School of Traditional Arts then worked with the students to help them create their own unique designs from the two different artistic styles of literati Suzhou and Royal Beijing.

Participants completed an impressive group design project which involved designing and painting a traditional architectural beam from the Palace’s gateways and ceiling structures.

All the works created were displayed in an exhibition of the summer camp’s activities. The Youth Summer Camp was the first of its kind to be taught at the Palace Museum. The exhibition was a great success, attended by leading officials from the Palace Museum, the Director of the Yuan Centre in Suzhou, representatives from The School of Traditional Arts, and the children’s families.

This initiative is part of wider public programmes delivered by The Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts | China Centre.