Daniel Zhang (b. 1995) is a British born Chinese photographer currently studying for a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge. His current practice is photographic, and uses a classical photographic vernacular to portray modern issues in a way that is initially familiar but under the surface conveys a sense of detachment and disquietude. His work mainly regards a disconnect he feels between his nationality and ethnicity, and is an attempt to reconcile the feelings of displacement and longing resulting from inheriting a culture from the other side of the world. He came into photography five years ago beginning with documentary work on his home city of Chengdu, and has now worked on two further projects: on the interaction of citizens with war monuments in China, and more recently on the historic porcelain trade route.
Clear Skies Wait For Rain
This series made during the summer of 2016, following the historic route over land taken by Chinese export porcelain. The desire to explore my heritage through photography, informed by a subject matter that simultaneously tethered me to my two homes, led me to this work. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, this luxury product was manufactured in Jingdezhen; China’s porcelain capital, and made its way via porter and boat to Guangzhou, where it would have left by ship to Britain and the rest of the world. I saw the migration of porcelain as a proxy to my own experience.
Making the same journey myself, I started in Jingdezhen’s still-operating workshops and kilns, crossed Lake Boyang and followed the Gan River southward, before crossing the Mei Pass in the Meiling Mountains. I then followed the Pearl River southward and ended up at the former site of the Whampoa Anchorage in Guangzhou, where the East India Trade Company’s ships would have docked, whose merchants and sailors were forbidden from venturing into the mainland.
To view more of Daniel’s work please visit his website.