Treasure Hunt in Kong Family Lane
We are in the downtown of an ancient metropolis. Yet, the windows and doors are mostly walled up with concrete blocks, as far as you can see. The few people who are still in the street have found here a quiet corner to gather and sort rubbish. Locals with their memories have been relocated. Silence on the street. The "gangster" with an apple tattoo on the back of his head is local, though. Go and talk to him, you'll find out lots of interesting stories!
Not all the doorways are barricaded. If you peek in, you will see invaluable treasures. Drawing Shanghai went out for a treasure hunt, to find what is hidden in Laoximen, waiting for its faith.
Artist Ssm’s Cheesecake has also her take on a sketching and photography visit to Laoximen in her blog 一鱼两吃.
Kong Family Lane in Laoximen is one of the most thrilling streets in Shanghai. With its ancient bends and twists, it is like a "thousand bend bridge" through Shanghai's history, from some of the earliest to the very modern art déco of republican Shanghai. Many of the houses have another sie though. The façades are mostly playing with the fashion of its time — the Western styles, from classical to beautiful simple art deco. Meanwhile, their interiors hide the dream of returning to the roots. You can see rich Chinese-style wooden carvings, that you don't see anywhere else in downtown Shanghai. Check out my posts tagged "symbolism" where I will be discussing some of the patterns you can find here.
When we sketched here last year, the streets still had shops and plenty of residents hanging out their clothes, doing their everyday things. Now the few people who still live here, have just one story to tell us: they have not yet arrived an agreement with the developers about their relocation compensation. Maybe they just refuse to become suburbanites, after being proud city mice for generations. They are the so-called 钉子户/dīngzi hù, nails on the road to developing a world-class international metropolis with immense boulevards for cars. Nails in the dream of the Old Lady, in her urge to get richer than the richest, deliriously wanting to get rid of her roots.