Surveying the hidden corners of China’s barren landscapes

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End of Ashes is Hua Weicheng’s third major project, but his first in colour. Originally interested in cinematography, he studied film at Beijing Broadcasting Institute and the Communication University of China, then turned to photography in 2007, and only switched to colour in 2012.

“The transition from black-and-white to colour resulted from the change in my feelings about life,” he explains. “My wife loves to enjoy life; she cares about quality of life and has a strong desire for more material things, which I think is not good. For me, people should pursue the eternal spiritual world. We quarrelled a lot. In the end, I was defeated because I found women were smarter than men in grasping how the world works. I found the profound and lasting world I wanted to pursue is actually on the surface… So I think black-and-white is like men and colours are like women. That’s why I turned to colour.”

Hua took the images in his free time all over China – from Chongqing, where he currently lives, to Hunan, his home town, via Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and elsewhere. He shoots with a Plaubel Makina W67, a classic medium format bellows camera beloved of documentary photographers in the 1980s. He has since exhibited the projectbut doing so isn’t his main objective. for him, the process of making the pictures is its own reward. “I hope I have time to go to more places,” he says, “as that makes me very happy in itself”.

Find more of Hua’s work here.

First published in the February 2014 issue. You can buy the issue here.

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy