Heritage Open Days 9-18 September 2022 - What will you discover?

CFCCA – a contemporary Chinese collection

So this is an intriguing picture...and there's an interesting story to go with it! Allow me to introduce Katie Waring from the CFCCA... and wish you all a prosperous Year of the Rat!​

This photograph is one of the only remaining records of an extraordinary artwork made of individual grains of rice (Installation Seeing: out of Time by Suki Chan, Chinese Art Centre, 2000) © Adam Green. CFCCA Archive GB3451/OC/6/2/17/20

Written by... Katie Waring, Archivist, CFCCA

What is CFCCA?

The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) Archive & Library is one of Manchester’s newest heritage services. Opened in July 2018 with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our collections trace the history of the CFCCA as well as the development of Chinese contemporary art since the 1980s.

CFCCA Archive & Library, 2019 / © Joe Smith

  • The CFCCA (formerly the Chinese Arts Centre) is a unique art gallery with a year-round programme of exhibitions, events and artist residencies. Dating from 1986, the Centre has over 30 years’ experience of working with emerging and established artists.
  • The Archive & Library holds the historical records of the Centre and a collection of publications relating to Chinese contemporary art.

What’s in your collection and what makes it special?

Our archival records are unique and are often the only documentation of site specific contemporary artworks shown at the Centre, such as the photographs documenting the installation of Suki Chan’s exhibition Seeing: Out of Time. For the exhibition, Chan applied individual grains of rice to the walls and windows of the gallery to capture the movement of shadows over three weeks. The site specific work was removed when the exhibition closed, and our photographs are the only record of the final intricate work.

Installation Water Works by Song Dong, Chinese Arts Centre, 2004 / © Tim McConville. CFCCA Archive GB3451/OC/6/3/6/3

Our library collection comprises over 1000 publications which have been presented to us by our artists or collected by staff visiting art exhibitions around the world. The diverse collection originates from over 25 countries and includes texts in 17 languages. With limited editions and publications not held in other collections in the UK, our library is an important resource for the history of Chinese contemporary art.

The Archive & Library has also become an important resource for the Centre. It informs development of the public programme through initiatives such as the Archive & Library residency where an artist is based within the archive, using material to inform development of their work.

Performance by Archive & Library residency artist Ada Hao, CFCCA, 2018 / © Joe Smith

What should we look out for this year?

The beginning of 2020 is an exciting time as we start our new Diaspora season which examines diasporic identities and migration. It opens today with two new exhibitions: Ho Tzu Nyen: The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia Volume 10: N for Nameless and Rae-Yen Song: *May-May Songuu*.

We are also celebrating Chinese New Year with events across Manchester this weekend. The Centre will be holding the Year of the Rat Drawing competition where visitors can win an original drawing by artist Joey Yu and a range of other prizes. And two special workshops: 'Make a Mythical Beast' with artist Joey Yu at the Arndale Centre; and an 'Archive & Library' session at the Manchester Central Library with artist Ayumi Konno inspired by our oral history collection. To find out more about our events see our what’s on page.

Find out more?

CFCCA Archive & Library launch, CFCCA, 2018 / © Paul Brownless

More information about the history of the Centre and our collections can be found on our online catalogue where you can access over 1500 archival records.  The catalogue also contains information about our programme history and the artists who have worked with us.  Since its launch in July 2018, it has received nearly 15,000 views from 46 different countries. 

About Katie Waring

Katie is the Archivist at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. Initially employed during a National Lottery Heritage Fund project, Katie has worked at the Centre since 2016 and has overseen the establishment of the CFCCA Archive & Library.