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The Five Happinesses


The Five Happinesses
Lee Grant
Jungle Books


Hardcover (with cloth cover)
88 pages
190×150 mm
ISBN: 978-0-99420-030-3


“One happiness scatters a thousand sorrows”

‘According to traditional Chinese thought, the most important goals in life are the five happinesses – good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth. These lie at the heart of all aspects of Chinese life and culture and are commonly depicted as various symbols or ideograms on everyday objects such as textiles, furniture, doors, ceramics and jewellery.

Throughout my exploration of Beijing, I met locals from all walks of life. Without fail they each shared their personal desires for good fortune and a blessed life.

In just one generation, China is a country that has undergone astonishing changes – perhaps exacerbated by Deng Xiaoping’s statement “to be rich is glorious” and it seems there is no end in sight to its transformational developments, both on home soil and abroad.

“A place for everyone and everyone in their place” is one way of understanding China’s collective mindset and how the country has achieved its economic miracles and milestones. In spite of this impressive record however, I can’t help but think of China’s individual citizens, toiling and dreaming their way into futures filled with the hope of good fortune. Whether or not they are all blessed by the five happinesses, perhaps remains to be seen.’

Lee Grant is an Australian photographer who lives and works in Australia and Asia. She is best known for her exploration of migrant identity against the backdrop of Australian suburbia. Her often formal, colour-portraiture examines identity integration and inhabited landscapes. In doing so, Lee frequently divulges the changing cultural face of Australia. She uses photography as a means of transcending language barriers, revealing aspects of identity, displacement and belonging otherwise in danger of going unnoticed. As a Korean-Australian Lee’s work is in part autobiographical – a means of navigating and interpreting her own identity and heritage, as well as an instrument to inform and inspire broader audiences.