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New Year at the Beitou Plum Garden

Exploring colorful china paintings and memories of Beitou’s hot spring homes

With the Lunar New Year approaching, during the moments of mild cold and warmth, a visit to Beitou makes for an excellent travel plan. Beyond its natural landscapes, Beitou is often associated with scenes of misty hot springs. Numerous local streets, along with old, Japanese-style houses, and a wealth of cultural stories, have been shaped by the presence of this invaluable geothermal resource.

The Beitou Plum Garden (北投梅庭), built in the late 1930s, is now the Taste Beitou (品北投) cultural and educational space, promoting a comfortable and artistic lifestyle. The outer gate pillars still bear the inscription “Plum Garden” as suggested by Mr. Yu-Jen Yu (于右任).

Situated in the Beitou River valley, the Beitou Plum Garden seamlessly blends Japanese-style wooden structures with modern reinforced concrete. The house once had a hot spring bath; outside, there is a lush courtyard and the Ki-Li-Gan stone wall (唭哩岸石圍牆), the excavations of which are now complete. In a nod to the wartime era, an air-raid shelter adds regional and historical significance. Nestled within the century-old Beitou Park, amidst various tourist spots, it serves as an ideal resting point. Enjoy the greenery in the courtyard for a sense of tranquility and explore the traces of past life indoors. The original corridor allows you to experience the healing atmosphere of the changing seasons.

Beitou Plum Garden as an Exhibition Venue

Taipei Fine Arts Museum’s TFAM on the Move project aims to use an artistic perspective to document stories, big and small, in the streets of Taipei. Through appreciation of collected works, the gathering of local memories, community co-creation, and the exploration of local identity and cultural characteristics, the project revisits the subjectivity of living areas. This year, in collaboration with the Beitou Plum Garden, china painting artists, other contemporary artists, and local residents have been invited to create together. Community memory collection, painting, resident story writing, and AI drawing will be used to visualize the memories of Beitou. The exhibition also features full-size digital micro-sprays of Gobara Koto’s “Twelve Points of Interest in Taipei,” an exhibit from the museum, which allows everyone to explore the charms of Beitou.

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Reviving Beitou’s Life Memories

Walking into the Beitou Plum Garden, the eye is drawn to a group of Nagashi (那卡西) welcoming musicians, depicted on painted ceramic tile door panels and screens. Beitou has a history of kiln development stretching back to the Qing Dynasty. The end of high-quality clay excavation led to the development of a temple china-painting industry. Today, on the walls of Beitou’s temples, you can still see many dedications and captivating mythological stories from the former hot spring hotels. 

The surroundings of the Beitou Plum Garden are reproduced in the hot spring bath of the Plum Garden by exploring Beitou Park, hand-drawing still-life landscapes, ceramic glaze color printing, and transfer printing. We invite viewers to explore this hot spring residence full of mysterious stories. 

Contemporary artist I-Chun Chen will gather local elders to share their own Beitou life stories and write personal accounts. The contents of the letters will be translated into moving ukiyo-e scrolls in “A Small History of Private Letters” by recording oral narratives and using AI image generation based on selected keywords. Presenting local life stories through a nuanced blend of intelligence and emotion creates an intimate but respectful portrayal of the community.

“Twelve Points of Interest in Taipei”

The special exhibition “Twelve Points of Interest in Taipei” by artist Gobara Koto is displayed in full-size digital micro-sprays. This exquisite booklet records twelve famous scenic spots in Taipei, including Beitou Hot Springs, and depicts the modern Taipei of the Japanese era in the delicate style of ukiyo-e. As you appreciate the artwork, you can also get a glimpse of past and present cultural life and natural landscapes of various regions, and experience the atmospheric changes between the different eras.

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Spring Welcoming & Workshops

The “TFAM on the Move” exhibition runs until March 17. In anticipation of the spring season, the Beitou Plum Garden will also host a series of joyous spring welcoming activities that we have called “Spring Walk” (春走春). On the eve of the Lunar New Year, workshops showing how to make elegant red envelopes by hand will be accompanied by artist-led lectures on china painting. The artists will deconstruct the image of Taiwanese china painting and plan a visit to explore the china paintings in Beitou’s temples. Listen to experts narrate the fascinating era of ceramics and the mythological stories they depict.