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At row after row of tented stalls, young designers sell their creations, from elegant tea sets to hand-painted ceramic earrings. Mangled by foreign tongues, Changnan transformed into China. But I soon spot a sinewy, little man carrying bags of clay on a bamboo pole across his shoulders. I follow him into a network of back alleys where dusty, garage-sized studios house dozens of artisans, all men and many are wearing blue Mao-era overalls.
They are happy for me to watch them at work. A trimmer carves patterns in the moist, ochre clay. Next door a painter glides his slender rabbit-hair brushes slowly across a vase, magicking into existence a fluid Chinese landscape. A few blocks down, a scrawny man dips some pots into a vat of glaze one last time before the kiln. Elsewhere, in a much larger workshop, two throwers work together in perfect unison to spin enormous jars, some taller than themselves.
Founded in by internationally exhibited ceramicist Caroline Cheng, the Pottery Workshop runs classes, residencies for visitors from around the world and tours. It is housed in the Sculpture Factory which, despite the name, is a rather pretty, two-storey building with whitewashed walls and traditional grey-tiled, pointy-eaved roofs. Paul tells me that when he first visited Jingdezhen there were no street lamps and only dirt pavements.
There were workshops but their goods were bought by traders and sold on elsewhere. At one such shop, I admire tiny, handleless teacups perched on a thick wooden branch like birds.
Over a cup of green tea, she tells me how Jingdezhen has changed over recent decades. There may yet be hope. Shenzhen Air 00 86 ; global. The Pottery Workshop 00 86 ; potteryworkshop. San Bao Ceramic Art Institute 00 86 ; chinaclayart. Jingdezhen International Youth Hostel 00 86 ; yhachina.