For many years, my understanding of the magnolia flower tended to be of cursory nature. It was based solely on my encounters with the white, scented flowers as an offering to the gods in temples, or with those, often just a couple of strands, sold by street vendors walking amidst the heavy traffic on busy streets. I am sure similar impressions of the magnolia flower are shared by many of us. However, my understanding has changed since March of 2001, when teh National Geographic commissioned me to carry out a project documenting the magnolia flower industry for its Chinese edition. After completing the assignment for the National Geographic, I continued to be inspired, and even moved, by this flower and by the people I had encountered during my endeavors. Consequently, the body of images in my mind continued to evolve and expand.
I ventured numerous times into the rural areas of Pintung County adn Changhua County, as well as exploring the heart of Taipei City. In this process of investigating and documenting the various aspects of growing and selling magnolia flowers, I found myself sharing the joys and hardships faced by the people I photographed, whether they were farmers, wholesalers or street vendors.
- Chao-Liang Shen Excerpt from Yulan Magnolia Flowers artist preface.