Exhibit features animals in a big way


TAIPEI — Wild imaginations will come to life in Taipei next month when an exhibition featuring outsized replicas of animals and insects begins, letting people walk into the stomach of a 68-meter-long sperm whale and play with a three-meter tall flea.

Over 70 huge replicas of animals and insects will be showcased in the city’s Youth Park Oct. 5-20 to inspire children’s creativity, said Jen Chien-cheng, chief director of the Paper Windmill Theatre troupe, who organized the exhibition.

The exhibition will feature a gigantic inflatable sperm whale made out of bullet-proof cloth as its pavilion.

Children can walk into the whale to see a make-believe undersea world featuring floating inflatable jellyfish, coral and other sea creatures, as well as sunken ships and underwater volcanoes, said Lee Yen hsiang, an official with the troupe.

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to play interactive games, watch theater performances and learn more about animals in Taiwan, such as the Formosan black bear and the black-faced spoonbill, Lee said.

Taipei will be the third leg of the troupe’s “Wonderland of Animals and Insects of Taiwan” exhibition, which has so far visited Taichung and Miaoli and is expected to visit Kaohsiung in November.

Over 250,000 people have visited the exhibition since its launch in Taichung in April, said Jen, who told CNA that his troupe hopes to take what children learn in school and everyday life about animals and insects and give it an artistic or creative twist to inspire their imagination.

For example, the exhibition will feature an inflatable beetle covered in Hakka floral print and a digital artwork that shows Taiwanese butterflies flying into a painting by Vincent van Gogh, he said.

Children can also see larger-than-life inflatable fleas and ladybugs, and can play on a “dragonfly helicopter” game, he continued.

“It can inspire children,” Jen said.

He said schools in Taiwan often educate people without sparking their imagination, but his troupe believes that art and creativity are the most powerful tools for Taiwanese children who will face competition in an ever-changing world.

“We encourage all teachers to bring their students to the exhibition on a field trip,” Jen said.

The exhibition is one of several sub-projects under an ambitious plan by the troupe to bring theater performances to Taiwan’s 368 townships, cities and districts. The “First Mile, Kid’s Smile: Arts for Children in 368 Townships” tour began Jan. 12.

The theater, founded in 1992 by local screenwriters and filmmakers, performs children’s plays, dances, puppet theater, black light theater and multimedia shows throughout Taiwan.

The last tour the Paper Windmill Theatre went on lasted five years until December 2011 and covered all 319 townships that existed in Taiwan at that time.