Archive for ‘Hotel’

03/03/2019

Across China: From imitation to creation, Chinese village paints new life

SHENZHEN, March 2 (Xinhua) — Zhao Xiaoyong was once called “China’s Van Gogh,” as the farmer turned oil painter made over 100,000 replicas of Van Gogh’s work over the past 20 years.

However, he never saw a single authentic piece of the Dutch post-impressionist painter until 2014 when he finally saved enough for a trip to the Netherlands.

The trip inspired him to think over his business and create his own works. “The masterpieces that I saw at the European museums made me realize that I have to develop my own style.”

Zhao is from Dafen, a village known for oil paintings in southern China’s Shenzhen City. Home to 1,200 studios and 8,000 painters, the village produces millions of replicas of Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso that are sold at home and abroad. According to statistics, 80 percent of oil paintings exported from China come from Dafen.

While the market demand for replicas is shrinking, Zhao and other painters in the village are creating their own art styles and attracting tourists.

Neighboring Hong Kong, Shenzhen is one of China’s first special economic zones for the country’s reform and opening drive. The painting industry started in Dafen Village in 1989 when Hong Kong purchasers sought to establish an oil painting base nearby.

Zhao, who quit his job at a craft factory, started learning how to paint from scratch in 1996. He imitated Van Gogh’s works via a painting album, including “sunflowers” and “almond blossoms.”

He sold his first works in 1999 when an American buyer ordered 20 paintings. More orders later came from abroad, prompting Zhao to recruit apprentices.

“My wife and my younger brothers are all my students,” he said with a smile. “I was even called ‘China’s Van Gogh’ in a documentary.”

Zhao and his team worked from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. painting eight pieces per person every day at most. Prices for the replicas ranged from 200 yuan (30 U.S. dollars) to 3,000 yuan per piece, depending on the size.

In 2008, when the economic recession hit most parts of the world, a drastic reduction of foreign orders forced Zhao to explore the domestic market. Profits kept shrinking after 2012 due to consumers’ diversifying tastes and rising costs.

Since then, many painters in the village have given up making replicas and turned to innovation and creation.

Chen Qiuzhi, who used to paint copies of masterpieces like Zhao, has worked hard to develop his own style, combining Chinese calligraphy with painting. To support him, his wife sold two apartments and had an art center built.

The center, located at the far end of Dafen village, covers an exhibition area of over 3,000 square meters and has become a landmark of Dafen. Some 100 calligraphy works are exhibited at the center with other craftwork.

Ten years of hard work has won him fame, with his works popular in the auction market. Now, one piece of his calligraphy is worth tens of thousands of yuan, almost 100 times the value of replicas he painted in the past. The art center also draws visitors.

“Only by creation can one’s works be remembered,” said Chen.

Today, Dafen has gathered nearly 300 art creators. In 2017, the annual output value of Dafen reached 4.15 billion yuan, among which the original works have accounted for 20 to 30 percent.

From imitation to creation, Dafen Village has been making the transition from a low-end oil painting workshop cluster to an art center, said Liu Yajing, director of the village’s oil painting office.

She said an oil painting museum, a performance theater, a training center and a hotel are being built to develop the village into a tourist resort featuring oil painting production, trade, training and exhibition.

Compared with his Van Gogh replicas, painter Zhao finds his own works hard to sell. But he believes that he will finally be recognized someday in the future.

“Imitation leads me nowhere. I will continue to concentrate on creation for the market and also for my dream as a real artist,” Zhao said.

Source: Xinhua

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15/02/2019

Fire alarms “faulty” at Delhi blaze hotel, prompting mass reinspections

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hotel that caught fire in the Indian capital on Tuesday, killing 17 people, passed safety checks 14 months ago, but an investigation has revealed breaches of regulations, such as faulty alarms, prompting a mass reinspection of other hotels.

Poorly enforced regulations lead to thousands of deaths in fires across India every year and officials in New Delhi say an overstretched fire service is hampering safety efforts.

The Hotel Arpit Palace passed a fire safety check in December 2017, but a copy of the initial police investigation seen by Reuters showed several breaches of fire regulations, including a lack of signs to guide guests to exits and fire alarms that did not work.

Delhi’s fire service, which is responsible for safety inspections as well as fighting fires, is now reviewing certificates issued to more than 1,500 hotels in one of India’s tourist hubs, a senior fire official told Reuters.

“Fire officers have to do a lot of work,” said Vipin Kental, Delhi’s chief fire officer. “We have to be inspectors and fight fires. We do not have the manpower.”

The city has around 1,700 firefighters, he said, which is less than an eighth of the number in New York, a city with less than half of Delhi’s population.

PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY

The fire is believed to have begun on the hotel’s first floor, spreading quickly through wood-panelled corridors, police say. Among the dead were members of a wedding party from Kerala and a two Buddhist pilgrims from Myanmar.

“From the outside, the building looked intact, but inside everything was completely charred,” a police officer told Reuters.

Two of the 17 died after jumping out of windows in desperation after failing to find emergency exits, added the officer, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Fire preparedness is a matter of shockingly low priority in most parts of the country,” said an editorial in the Indian Express, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

A 2018 study by India’s home ministry that found the country had just 2,000 of more than 8,500 fire stations it needs.

More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2015, according to data from the ministry, the last year for which figures are available, one of the largest causes of accidental death in India.

Fire safety is an issue for shanty towns and some of the country’s most expensive real estate.

A day after the Arpit Palace disaster, more than 250 makeshift homes were destroyed in a slum in Paschim Puri, a poor area of New Delhi, though no one was killed.

In 2017, 14 people were killed during a birthday party at a high-end bar in India’s financial capital Mumbai.

In several upscale neighbourhoods in Delhi, police shut hundreds of shops and restaurants last year for trading on floors meant for residential use, though many continue to operate illegally, residents say.

By the boarded-up Arpit Palace in the Karol Bagh area of New Delhi, wires from adjacent hotels still trail across the street, though staff there told Reuters they were complying with fire regulations.

Adding to the safety problems, poorly paid staff in the hotel and restaurant industries are often unable to help guests when fires break out, Kental said.

“They are not trained. They don’t know what to do in the event of a fire,” he said.

Source: Reuters

05/12/2018

China’s hotel hygiene horror continues with new scandal

Alice Yan

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Weeks after some of China’s upmarket hotels were exposed for using the same soiled towels to clean drinking cups and toilets, officials have uncovered another hygiene issue at a mid-price hotel in the country’s northern province of Shanxi.

Health officials from the provincial capital of Taiyuan found disinfected towels stored with shoes and half-consumed snacks during an inspection on Tuesday.

According to the China News Service, the inspection found a number of hotels did not follow hygiene rules to sterilise customer utensils and were also not monitoring air, water, light and noise levels as required.

The health inspectors highlighted the case of one hotel in the downtown area, part of the Jinjiang Inn franchise, where clean towels were found stored in the same small room as the rubbish bins. Regulations require that towel cabinets are not placed with other items.

Inside the towel cabinet were a box of men’s shoes, half a pack of melon seeds and personal cosmetic products that belonged to hotel employees, the officials said.

“These items are probably not clean and can’t be stored with things that have already been cleaned; otherwise there will be cross-contamination,” an inspector was quoted as saying.

Officials also found items in the hotel’s sterilising room which should not have been there, and two employees working in the sterile area without the mandatory health certificate.

Last month Huazong, an online celebrity in China, uploaded a video in which some cleaners at five-star hotels were seen using the same towel to clean a bathroom mirror, basin, toilet and drinking cups.

Amid the uproar caused by the video, a commenter on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, wrote, “Hygiene problems exist in expensive hotels. I dare not imagine how bad the situation is in other hotels?”

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