THEY are famous in a country of more than one billion people.
But Chinese artists Zhong Yan and Han Zhibing are unknown in Portsmouth – until now.
The talented duo are hoping to make a name for themselves on their first visit to England as part of the Portsmouth Festivities.
The cultural extravaganza, incorporating the arts, theatre, film, music and literature, begins tomorrow and there will be 10 days of thought-provoking events to capture the imagination.
Zhong and Han are two of four international artists from Beijing who will be making Portsmouth their base and will be hoping to be inspired and get creative over the next week or so.
Han will be based at the Kings Theatre in Southsea, while Zhong will be at HMS Warrior at Portsea.
Zhong, who specialises in colourful oil paintings where each colour has a meaning, said: ‘I am very happy because this is my first time in England.
‘I have shown art in Italy, Germany, France, and Hong Kong.
‘I have come here and I’m excited.
‘I get new ideas from England from other artists.
‘We exchange a lot of ideas.
‘Of course, the city is beautiful and I like it very much.’
The Beijing artists will be showcasing their work at the Coastguard Studio, in Clarendon Road, on Saturday evening and at the Kings Theatre on Monday evening.
There will be something for everyone at the festivities, which is now in its 16th year.
Bill Taylor, education director at the Kings, said: ‘For Portsmouth, it’s been a huge cultural step forward.
‘For many years the culture within the city had been quite diverse, but was essentially isolated.
‘What this has done is bring all cultural elements in the city together with a big celebration.
‘The importance of the artists from Beijing is immense.
‘At last it shows that Portsmouth is now on the international stage. It’s an opportunity for people to dip into things they would not otherwise experience.’
Sandra Smith, publicity manager at the Kings, added: ‘It puts Portsmouth on the map.
‘It makes people think Portsmouth is an exciting place to be – and it is.’