Nicki Johnson: Hainan arts scene is heating up

By Wu Ruolin / HIMC / Updated: 23:18,15-January-2023

Editor's notes:

As deep water makes for healthy fish, a strong city makes for a flourishing economy. A rich business environment is the fertile soil for the survival and development of enterprises. It attracts projects, boosts industry, and promotes development. Since the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port began, Hainan has—in order to optimize the business environment—continuously worked at systemic innovation and improving mechanisms. The FTP is working to accelerate the formation of a legalized, international, convenient business environment in order to create a fair, open, and efficient market environment. With the vigorous rise of Hainan and the continuing optimization of the local business environment, more and more talented people from around the world are coming to Hainan to start businesses. The Hainan International Media Center has launched a special program: "Making it in the FTP" to hear from those international entrepreneurs in Hainan, to tell their stories of life in the Hainan Free Trade Port, and to showcase the development and changes taking place in Hainan's business environment.

Li Brocade inspired hand-painted magnets made by Nicki.

Nicki Johnson has been living in Hainan for 18 years, and her first encounter with Li Brocade was a gift from a friend. She said that when she sees a Li Brocade pattern, she is very excited to take pictures of it with her phone, then study it later at home, and ask people who might know about it to tell her more about the meaning. When people ask about the handicrafts she designs, Nicki is thrilled to share the stories behind the different Li Brocade patterns that inspire them. She hopes that more people will learn about and become interested in the culture, history, and beauty of Li Brocade.

After starting to design and make her own handmade Li Brocade crafts, Nicki got involved in some local cultural events. She has been given a booth at many cultural markets free of charge, and invited to take part in many cultural events to promote Hainan and Li Brocade. Her customers give her a lot of encouragement and appreciation, which makes her even more excited to promote Hainan and Li Brocade.

Nicki at a local cultural event.

With her growing love for Li Brocade and understanding of Li Brocade culture, Nicki decided to open her own shop. Although some people said that it’s impossible to get people interested in art in Haikou, and other people even said that Hainan is a cultural desert, she didn’t get discouraged, believing that once people came in contact with local art, and learned more about it, they would be sure to love it. After a brief period of preparation, her new shop, called Island Delights, opened in Baishamen Park in October 2022.

Baishamen Park is one of Nicki’s favorite places in Haikou. The beauty of the park’s natural scenery attracts locals and travelers alike. Since the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port began, many policies supporting entrepreneurs have been implemented in the province. “These policies have made it much easier for expats like me to start and run businesses here,” said Nicki.

Notebooks featuring Nicki's Hainan photography and Li Brocade inspired art by Ally Duckett.

Over her nearly two decades of living in Hainan, Nicki has seen quite a bit of change and development on the island. Now that she has opened her own “dream shop”, she is confident in the future of Hainan’s cultural industry. “We have more and more exciting events happening here in Hainan, and I hope that my little shop can be a part of that scene,” Nicki said.



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