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Yan Wang Preston

United Kingdom/China

Dr Yan Wang Preston trained originally in Clinical Medicine in Fudan University, Shanghai, China and worked as an anaesthetist before moving to the UK in 2005.  Since then, she has devoted herself to a career in photography. In 2009, she received her master’s degree in Photography at Bradford College, Leeds Beckett University, UK. Following that, between 2010 and 2018, she completed a practice-based PhD in Photography at the University of Plymouth under the supervision of Professor Jem Southam and Professor Liz Wells.


Alongside her artistic career, Dr. Preston lectures in photography at the University of Huddersfield, UK, where she supervises PhD, MRes and BA students. She is also actively engaged in photography research, education and promotion by presenting at conferences, judging photography competitions and giving talks.

D12-Puhejing Quarry Ecology Recovery Project, Dali, China, 2017.jpg

Puhejing Quarry Ecology Recovery Project, Dali, Yunnan Province, China, 2017.
From Forest series (2010-2017). ©Yan Wang Preston 

Frank-2-June 2013.jpg

In Haidong, a small district of Dali city, urbanisation and ecology recovery are designed to occur simultaneously. With both processes, red soil and green netting play important roles. The dark red soil, as seen on the ground in this picture, is a semi-artificial mixture. Its base, a natural substance, is chosen because it is sticky, fine and unfertilised. Artificial agents are added to the soil, making it more sticky, porous, fertile, and able to hold more water. Grass seeds are then added into the mixture. 


Such soil-and-seeds mixture is sprayed onto the rock faces of closed quarries and constructions sites, with the hope to cover the area with vegetation in several months’ time. To stabilise the new topsoil on the quarry surface, a whole support system is put into place, which includes concrete frames, sandbags, and metal mesh. Green netting, said to be biodegradable, is used to cover the new soil until it can be locked by the new plant roots. Such temporary and questionable ecology recovery process creates an astonishing landscape with a very unnatural colour palette and gigantic scales, as seen in this image.

This is the second picture in the trilogy of Frank the tree


‘Frank’ (named by the artist) was a 300-year-old daqing tree (Ficus hookeriana Corner), originally living in a tiny village in a remote area of Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. In March 2013, when the artist discovered the thriving tree, the village was about to be demolished to give way to a hydroelectric dam on the nearby Yangtze River. In June 2013, when the artist returned to the village, everything was flattened, and Frank had been sold to someone in another city. The artist then chased its route and found it standing on a desert-looking land, which was waiting to be built into a five-star hotel. By this time, Frank had lost all of its leaves and crown, so that it was possible to be transported. 

Frank -2, Binchuan, Yunnan Province, China, June 2013.
From Forest series (2010-2017). ©Yan Wang Preston 

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