Our family used to live in Nanzai Village, Erlun Township, Yunlin County
and we had a Nanzai Elementary School
but we couldn't study when we were young
because at that time there was a preference for boys over girls
so I was very young, about seven or eight years old
when I had to start studying work
and watch over my younger brothers and sisters.
Also, my father and others would all ride their bicycles to Douliu
in the middle of the night to bring salt back to sell.
A round trip took many hours.
When I was a child, we would go to pull sugarcane leaves
at the Taiwan Sugar Corporation, which back then was a farm.
For a day’s work I could earn a penny and a half at most.
When the sugarcane had been harvested
and was ready for collection,
my father would carry Taiwan Sugar’s sugarcane
to the train station.
It was a small train.
Once it was carried there,
I still had to come after to pick up the sugarcane tails one by one
into bundles and bring them back for the cow to eat.
Once, there was a time when suddenly in the middle of the night,
our cow lost consciousness and fell over,
making a loud sound from the cowshed.
My grandmother wanted to see where all the noise was coming from
so we went to check it out and found our cow had collapsed.
At that time, almost everything was farming but there was no money,
so a living cow could fetch tens of thousands of yuan,
30,000 to 50,000 yuan
but after it died, someone would come to buy it the next day
for only 4,000 yuan
so there was no way–
at that time, the whole family was very grieved,
I saw my father cry every day, broken-hearted,
and then he went to borrow a cow from a distant relative,
because at the Taiwan Sugar Corporation,
in order to work the sugarcane,
you definitely needed a cow in order to finish.
After he brought the borrowed cow back (on a contract)
He was able to continue working like this.
So people from that era really went through a lot of hardship
but sensible people could figure things out.
What is the artwork about?
When my grandmother was a child, they would pull sugarcane in the sugarcane orchard and my grandmother's father used an ox cart to pull the sugarcane to Wufen Station and finally the Wulfen train.
What can you see in the picture?
We can see some people pulling sugarcane and some people are sending the sugarcane to the Taiwan Sugar Corporation by using cow carts to pull the sugarcane to Wufen Station, where finally the Wu Fen Train takes it to the Taiwan Sugar Corporation.
What was your goal when making this artwork?
I wanted to draw out the places where people worked so hard before without any machines, where their work could only be done manually. Cows were very important at that time.
How do you want the viewer to feel when they look at your interview, transcript, and artwork?
People in the past worked really hard. We must cherish what we have now, and how we only have to do manual work when machines aren’t able. Technology has been improving and now we also have electrically powered machines.
What else do you want viewers to know about your artwork?
Hope – this artwork will let people all over the world know the history of Taiwan, what industries existed before for the Taiwanese, what hard work they were, and let the children of today know what happened during the time of their grandparents.