About the Exhibition

I wanted to show the beauty of the river. I wanted to portray places where people still live in harmony with the Yangtze, as they have for centuries. I wanted to inspire. This is a beautiful river, a cradle of civilization to protect.”  – Eric Valli

For six months, renowned photographer Eric Valli travelled along the Yangtze River in China, the world’s third largest waterway, capturing its most breathtaking and remote places.

Featuring more than 90 photographs and seven short documentary films, Living Yangtze by Eric Valli for Swarovski Waterschool brings about the stories from seven inspiring communities, each living in harmony with the Yangtze River.

Using images and films as a positive medium, Living Yangtze by Eric Valli for Swarovski Waterschool  attempts to reconnect us with the communities living alongside the river and generate awareness on the importance of sustainable water management.

Seven Breathtaking Locations, Seven Inspiring Stories

The exhibition unfolds over seven different chapters, portraying the overwhelming landscape and dignified faces of people Eric met on his way: traditional potters who make their living from the river’s clay, fishermen of the Eastern Lake, patient tea planters continuing a 2000 year old tradition, a stopover in a traditional Naxi village, an adventurous painter inspired by the ever-changing light and landscape, Lamas and villages coming together to protect nature, creating a unique testimony of traditional China, far from the beaten track.

Home to 480 million people, the Yangtze supports a third of China’s population. From Shanghai to Geladangdong Massif, the source of the river, it is the third largest river in the world.

Swarovski Waterschool

Living Yangtze was a project inspired by the Swarovski Waterschool, a not-for-profit organization which has been working in the Yangtze Basin since 2008. 

Water has always been a key element in the production of Swarovski crystal, but it also runs through the company's culture and philosophy, which from the earliest days 120 years ago demanded a respect for human and environmental values. The objectives of the Swarovski Waterschools are to create awareness of the fact that water is essential to our survival; to teach the principles of sustainable water management; and to provide clean drinking water and water sanitation in schools and surrounding communities where the Waterschool program is active.

Fifteen years ago, the first Swarovski Waterschool was established on Austria's Inn River. Since then Swarovski has set up Waterschools around the globe on the world's greatest rivers – in India's Ganges Delta, on China's Yangtze River, in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and in the Amazon Forest of Brazil. The program has reached 200,000 children and their families and been taught in 2,655 schools worldwide. 

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Eric Valli

Renowned photographer, film director and author Eric Valli was born in 1952 in Dijon, France. He originally trained as a cabinet-maker, but has spent most of his career working on the relationship between man and nature.

Since 1981 Eric has captured on camera some of the most inaccessible locations in the world, working for titles such as National Geographic, Life, GEO, Paris Match, Stern and Smithsonian magazines, and The Sunday Times of London. Eric specialises in mountain scenery and is an expert on the Himalayas, in particular Nepal, Tibet and Afghanistan. In 1987, his photo story Honey Hunters – documenting the cliff-climbing Gurung tribesmen of west-central Nepal – won a World Press Award.

In 1990 Eric shot Shadow Hunters, which captures the gathering of birds’ nests for soup in a vast cave in western Thailand. The film received an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. In 1999 he directed the adventure story Himalaya – a tale of survival in the mountain region – which became the first Nepalese film to receive an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film. Eric has published 14 books to date. In total, his photography has been recognized with three World Press Awards. 

For Living Yangtze by Eric Valli for Swarovski Waterschool, Eric spent six months travelling across China portraying the river through the people living in harmony with it.