Yan Wang Preston
19 Egongyan Park 2017

Yan Wang Preston (b. 1976, China) originally studied clinical medicine, working as an anaesthetist for three years in Shanghai, but in 2005 she moved to the UK and shifted career to focus on photography. She completed her PhD at the University of Plymouth in 2018. To date, her art work has centred around the rapid social and economic transitions taking place in China, specifically as experienced through their impact on the natural environment. In her long-term project, Forest, Preston documents the recent phenomenon of transplanting ancient trees into the new cities which are springing up across China. In the small village of Xialiu she photographed a three-hundred-year-old tree, standing at the centre of a community that was being coerced into moving so that a dam could be built in the river valley. Three months later, no trace of the village or the tree could be seen. The residents had moved up the mountain, and the seventy-ton tree had been sold for ten thousand American dollars to a hotel in the nearest large city, Binchuan. Yan found the tree, divested of all its branches and leaves and bandaged in plastic, inside the skeleton of the hotel, which was still under construction. If a tree traditionally stood for rootedness and longevity, the forests of uprooted trees which now populate an emerging concrete desert of urbanisation stand for the new conditions of rapid change which characterise globalisation today.

House of Fraser Originally called Dingles, this was the first new post-war department store anywhere in the UK, opening on 1 September 1951. It was seen as a sign of a new modern Plymouth - even having the city’s first escalator. A fifth floor was added in 1961 and then a sixth after the fire of 1988 (when it was firebombed by animal activists protesting against the sale of fur). It was recently announced that the Plymouth branch of House of Fraser will be closing in 2019.