It all started last year in March. Sixteen hundred paper pandas and 200 paper Formosan black bears took to the streets, subways, and local tourist attractions in Taipei. I saw pictures of these paper cuties plastered all over the Taiwan news and social media pages. They were causing quite the stir – in a positive way, of course!
These paper marche creations are the work of French artist, Paulo Grangeon. They are not just something to ‘ooh and ahh’ about – they symbolized something much greater than that. It is to raise public awareness and knowledge. The 1600 paper pandas represent the number of pandas that currently exist in the wild and the 200 Formosan black bear paper figurines represent the number that currently exist today as well.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to Taipei when they were on display there. I really wanted to but it seemed like my job and other commitments at that time prevented me from hopping on the high-speed train and whisking me away to Taipei.
So, I waited patiently to see if they would come to me.
And they did.
And I got to see them not once, but twice.
These paper creations made their way to Nantou in mid-July of last year. My husband and I braved the unbearable mid-day heat just to see them. However, our visit had us seeking shade and shelter almost immediately (and looking for the nearest store to buy water). We enjoyed the display as much as we could but the weekend crowd made it hard to ‘squeeze in’ for a shot and the weather made picture-taking draining. I did find myself drawn to the pandas wearing the typical ‘Taiwanese farmer’s hat’ as it was a perfect representation of this region of Taiwan.
However, during the 10/10 long weekend in October, they made their way to our neck of the woods. The exhibition was on display in front of the newly built Taichung Opera House. Some of the pandas were decked out with masks and top hats so typically associated with opera. The exhibition in Taichung was also crowded but at least the weather was cooler which made the whole experience all the more enjoyable.
The pandas and Formosan black bears are still popping up here and there all over Taiwan. According to the exhibition facebook page, their next appearance will be in Chiayi in early February. So, if you are in Taiwan, you may still have the opportunity to see these paper creations!!
Have you ever seen something like this with an agenda – to raise awareness? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comment box below.
Photos taken in Nantou
Photos taken in Taichung