Yan Wang Preston


The word for world is still forest*. In the age of Anthropocene, the violent destruction of forests is one of the defining characteristics of our societies. Interestingly, forests are also deeply desirable for rapidly expanding urban environments around the world.

In the photographic project Forest, the British-Chinese artist Yan Wang Preston spent eight years (2010-2017) investigating the politics of recreating forests and the ‘natural’ environment in new Chinese cities. In Chongqing, a city of 30 million people, she followed the developments of the transplanted old trees, the concrete city and its people for eight years, documenting the changes, dramas and lives in the city. She then extended the project to Haidong, capturing the bizarre and wildly-coloured ecology-recovery landscapes. On the way, a series of stories are collected and narrated, that raise questions about the complexity of urban reforestation and nature re-construction in the contemporary era.

Forest won the First Prize, Professional Landscape category of Sony World Photography Awards and the First Prize of Syngenta Photography Award in 2017. It is published as a monograph by Hatje Cantz in 2018. Signed books can be purchased from Preston’s website.

*This sentence is borrowed from the book title by Anna-Sophie Springer (Berlin: K.Verlag, 2017).

About the Artist

Artist Website

Dr. Yan Wang Preston is a British-Chinese artist primarily interested in the con-tested conditions of nature in contemporary societies. Her major projects in-clude: ‘Mother River’ (2010-2014), for which she photographed the entire 6,211-km Yangtze River in China at precise 100-km intervals; ‘Forest’ (2010-2017), for which she investigated the politics of reforestation and ecology recovery in new Chinese cities.

Preston’s work has won major international awards such as the 1st Prize in Pro-fessional Landscape category, Sony World Photography Awards (2019), RPS Hundred Heroines (2018), the 1st Prize, Syngenta Photography Award (2017) and Shiseido Photography Prize (2016).

Solo exhibitions of Preston’s work has been presented at venues such as the 56th Venice Biennale, Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum, Wuhan Art Museum, Gallery of Photography Ireland, Impressions Gallery in Bradford and Side Gallery in Newcastle. Her work has also been featured in many high-profile group exhibi-tions in the USA, Canada, UK, Spain and Italy.

Preston’s monographs ‘Forest’ and ‘Mother River’ were both published by Hatje Cantz in 2018. Her images have been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Irish Times, Chinese Photography Maga-zine and European Photography. Her work is collected by Wuhan Art Museum, Swatch, Syngenta, Open Eye Gallery as well as individual collectors.

Preston was awarded a PhD in Photography by the University of Plymouth in 2018. Besides of her artistic practice, she also lectures at the University of Hud-dersfield, UK, where she supervises PhD and MA students.