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October 16, 2010

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Expo labor of love ... in pencil and ink

EVEN though he's official photographer for the China Space Pavilion, Wei Zhonghao is also devoted to capturing the World Expo's attractions in pencil and ink.

And as the Expo enters its final days, Wei is also nearing the finishing line of his own marathon event - drawing all the foreign country pavilions. And of course, the whole project has to be done in his spare time.

Wei, 60, an industrial artist retired from the Shanghai No. 1 Department Store, began to work on the Expo site last October, and has already completed 200 pictures.

"I just want to keep some memories from the Expo, and drawing pavilions is my way of doing that," said Wei.

Each of his works carries a stamp from the pavilion depicted. The pieces of art are only for his personal collection, Wei has turned down offers to buy them.

Next year, Wei plans to hold an exhibition themed on Expo, featuring oil paintings, sketches and watercolors.

Combining his day job with his art project makes a lot of demands on Wei's time.

He gets up at 6am every day and one hour later is heading to the Expo site where he tries to find some time to draw before the day's work begins.

"My wife usually finds that I'm already gone by the time she gets up," joked Wei. But an early start does not guarantee an early finish, and Wei is rarely home before 8pm.

Among all the Expo attractions, Wei's favorite is the China Pavilion, which he sketched on October 1, the National Day. "The China Pavilion is stunning - it's so impressive," he said.

Wei first began drawing as a child, quickly becoming adept at portraits of the country's leaders. Since then, he has always sketched, while following other creative paths.

Some interiors of the China Space Pavilion were created by Wei, who in the past was renowned for his shop windows displays of the Shanghai No.1 Department Store.

Wei also runs a photography workshop, but has been away from his business for a year - obviously to its detriment.

"But working at Expo has been a great opportunity," said Wei, who thinks the Expo experience, and his paintings, outweigh business losses.

Already Wei has set himself a new goals - drawing the old buildings across the city. "Those longtangs might be torn down one day, and I should record them," he said.


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