Zhu Xihua 朱熙华, coin designer and engraver at the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd 上海造币有限公司 has just been honoured with a Shanghai Skilled Worker Award.
The winners of the Shanghai Skilled Workers Awards 2017 (上海2017年工匠命名) were announced on the 19 September 2017, with 94 highly skilled people receiving the honour. Online news in English also calls these the Shanghai Artisans Awards or the Shanghai Craftsmen Awards, which is somewhat misleading as the awards are for excellence in various industries (electricity, steel, shipbuilding, aerospace, automotive, communications, construction, transportation, and more). The awards are organised by the Shanghai Federation of Trades Unions, with the aim of building up 1000 Skilled Workers over a decade (roughly 100 per year from 2016 to 2025) to speed up Shanghai’s development as a centre of innovation in science and technology , and the implementation of the national initiative “Made in China 2025“. The winners are also promoted on TV, and in publications. In 2016, 88 awards were made. In 2017, there were 767 nominations, and 94 awards were made.
Zhu Xihua has been working as coin designer and engraver for over a decade, and has contributed to the design of over 100 commemorative coins. Born in 1982, he graduated from the Shanghai Theatre Academy (上海戏剧学院) where he majored in stage design (2002-2005). He joined the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd in 2005, where he learned from senior designers Luo Yonghui 罗永辉 and Yu Min 余敏, and was selected to work on a new series of Chinese gold and silver zodiac coins, two of which were nominated for the Krause “Coin of the Year” awards.
One of Zhu’s medals was selected for FIDEM XXXIII (The International Art Medal Federation’s 33rd congress and exhibition), held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2014. It was a brass medal, titled “2011 International Year of Forests“. The obverse features a bird, whose feathers are also leaves. The reverse features a human embryo at the centre, surrounded by creatures of the forest.
It was the first time that medalists from China took part in FIDEM, and six medals were presented – by ZHU Xihua, WANG An, LIAO Bo, ZHONG Chengxin, DENG Shanshan and LUO Yonghui (for details, see the FIDEM XXXIII Catalogue, 2014, pp. 48-52).
In 2016, the Shanghai Mint Co Ltd established the Zhu Xihua Art Design Studio (朱熙华艺术设计工作室), with a team of 10 designers (8 of whom, including Zhu himself, were born in the 1980s). This team designed the set of 5 silver coins commemorating the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (1 August 1927).