Sai Kung Artists are preparing to host the town’s first art fair, Sai Kung Art And About, Callum Wiggins chats with Sai Kung Artists. Local artist Tony Cheng explains more about what’s in store for ‘Sai Kung Art And About’ and how his concept finally came to life.
What is ‘Sai Kung Art And About’?
It’s a gathering of creative minds from all over Hong Kong to showcase and promote their artistic talents while involving the local public. We hope to educate visitors about art and show them that Hong Kong’s arts scene has much to offer. Sai Kung Artists will explain the rationale behind their work and discuss the various skills and techniques that they employ.
When did the idea first come about?
The idea came to me about four years ago whilst I was taking a stroll in Sai Kung Waterfront Park, taking note of the park’s design and the surrounding area. I thought that the upper balcony would make an excellent outdoor gallery. I continued on my walk with this in mind and the idea developed as I spotted other areas of note. I imagined all these areas filled with pieces of work by Sai Kung Artists. Thus the idea of ‘Art and About’ was formed to be a group exhibition for artists across Hong Kong to join, exhibit, promote and share ideas.
Why has it finally come to fruition this year?
When ‘Art And About’ was mentioned in Sai Kung Magazine a few years back it was just an idea. I made a few proposals, took photographs of possible locations, discussed the idea with interested Sai Kung artists and also asked around Government departments about how I could apply for such an event. Unfortunately, nothing concrete ever seemed to arise from these discussions. For years it remained an idea floating around my head.
As luck would have it, during a meeting with the District Office about this year’s Sai Kung Calendar last December, I proposed the idea once more and there was some interest. We met up again at the start of the year and they told me “let’s make this happen”. So here we are.
What can visitors expect on the day?
The event is not just about standing and looking at paintings. There will be seminars, workshops and other creative activities, where artists show the public how they make their art and the public can also get involved. I want the event to show artists in Hong Kong that they are not alone, there are many others out there like them with whom they can share ideas and discuss different philosophies about art. It should be a chance to network with other artists so that more opportunities will open upfor creative minds in the future.
Sai Kung Art And About takes place on March 19 and 20. A Gallery walk will be held at Sai Kung Waterfront Park and the artist exhibitions and workshops will be located on Mei Yuen Street (next to the sports ground).
I have always drawn and painted. It has been a constant throughout my life. Some fairly major events a few years ago persuaded me to take my art more seriously. I started my Ground Level series to capture people working at the ground level of Hong Kong society. These are the street sweepers, road workers and others who keep Hong Kong clean and moving and whom we pass by everyday but hardly ever really see. It became almost an obsession. When I would see a new FEHD cleaner with a crazy hat or a group together that I hadn’t seen before, I had to paint them. Once you start noticing these people, they are everywhere, helping to keep Hong Kong the success it is. It was very well received at the
Asia Contemporary Art Show which was my first exhibition. I sold quite a lot and even had a couple of people commissioning me to paint their local cleaners and sweepers as a truly local reminder of their time in Hong Kong. I mostly work in oils on canvas at the moment, but previously I did a lot of watercolors. Oil is a lot more forgiving! I work from home which is both a blessing and a curse. It is quite lonely, which is good for concentration, but as an introvert I can go for days without seeing anyone except my family.
Sometimes I have to force myself to socialise. My current project is called Feminicity. Feminicity grew from my experiences with my eldest daughter who has had a long journey
through gender identity. I felt the need to look at women around me of all shapes, ages and appearances and paint them. I will be exhibiting Feminicity at the upcoming Asia Contemporary Art Show at the Conrad hotel over the Easter weekend.
Living in Sai Kung has given me the space to paint and I have a small group of closeknit friends here who have all been incredibly encouraging. I love being able to paint in the
morning and then pop into Sai Kung for lunch and be back in time to do the school run. Recently, however, I became an empty nester for the first time which means much more time for my painting. There are plenty of artists who live in Sai Kung, but up until now I think the possibility of exhibiting and selling in Sai Kung as a working painter has not been there. We need to go to the Island to be taken seriously. Hopefully that will begin to change.
I’ve drawn and painted since childhood, I can’t recall ever not drawing. One of my earliest memories is discovering art books on Renoir, Titian and Michelangelo and being absolutely mesmerised by the images.
My art is inspired by my surroundings, my imagination and my family including my beautiful new granddaughter; one of the series is completely inspired by her. Currently I’m working on a few bodies of work for several upcoming exhibitions in March in both Sai Kung and Hong Kong Island.
The human figure is an ever expanding volume of sketches in my studio as I run life drawing sessions at both the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre and at our studio, Studio SKink, in Sai Kung. It’s a great way to meet other artists and foster an artistic community.
I co-run Studio SKink – it’s a working artists studio with a difference. So far, we’ve hosted regular life drawing sessions, monthly free art talks featuring guest artists from all over Hong Kong, art jams and workshops for adults.
The culture of Hong Kong – and specifically Sai Kung – constantly inspires me; the environment, festivities, rituals, even people simply going about their daily routines are a curiosity. I photograph and journal my surroundings daily. The fusion of cosmopolitan urbanity and old style ways is a delight.
The upcoming Sai Kung Art And About art fair is something to look forward to. Promoting more art in a community can only be a positive thing. It should prove to be an enriching event for the artists involved and Sai Kungers alike.
I know many practising artists creating fantastic work who reside in Sai Kung. It’s my hope that we can generate more opportunities for them to showcase their art and inspire others.
When I was little I used to spend most of my time drawing. Listening to The Jam record ‘Art School’ made up my mind that I wanted to go to art school and be an artist. On leaving university I decided to become an art teacher and illustrator. It’s only in recent years since having children that I’ve started to exhibit my work in Hong Kong and London.
My first exhibition in Hong Kong focused on the plight of the Chagossians, a people who were displaced from an island called Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in the 1960s. I worked with local NGO Vision First. The profit from sales went to help refugees in Hong Kong and the UK. Above all I want my work to have a voice and communicate a message – often it has a social and political theme fuelled by current affairs or a narrative that interests me. I work in a variety of media and I like to experiment with materials with a recent specialisation in screen printing.
My latest work looked at the disappearance of the book sellers from Causeway Bay and censorship in China. Living in Hong Kong allows us freedom but with recent events I worry for the future of art in our vibrant city, especially if artists feel the need to self-censor.
I’m not looking to make pretty or saleable art but rather to try and provoke people to think.
I will be showing my work during Sai Kung Art and About and I’m looking forward to seeing fellow local artists’ work. It opens up art to the public and makes it accessible to all, hopefully inspiring creativity in others.
Art should be for everyone and not about buying art for investment – buy it because you love it.
I am quite new to undertaking visual art on a full time basis. Being a graphic designer, I was tired of working digitally and really wanted to return to the fundamentals of art and design.
Much of my work at this stage is exploration into technique and materials and learning to work freely without the constraints of a design brief. I work primarily in acrylic, pastel,
ink and papier mache on paper and canvas. Recently I was offered a space at Studio SKink; it was a perfect opportunity to explore ideas and see how far I can go as an artist.
Over the years I have taken many photos of Sai Kung’s natural environment and I am interested in the details of a natural or urban landscape. There are some really amazing looking insects and a great diversity in plants. These have become my reference for some work, however, I also work purely from imagination. It’s not always clear what has sparked an idea.
It would be great if Sai Kung could have an annual arts festival with music and art workshops as well as exhibitions. Hong Kong is great for art trade fairs, selling and buying art,
but it definitely needs a National Gallery.
The arts are intrinsic to our cultural heritage, identity and humanity. It’s not just about buying and selling. It should be accessible to everyone.
I have been passionate about art ever since I can remember. One of my earliest memories is having the freedom to draw; using chalk on our red gloss painted floor in India where I spent the first few years of my life before moving to the UK. I drew figures over and over again all over the living and dining room. At school, Art was my favourite subject. I have always been surrounded by the creative process – my family is involved in various aspects of the art, craft and design industries. My training is in textiles although currently I am more focused on my drawing, for its immediacy of expression, as well as a way of gathering information visually for possible future works.
I am particularly interested in exploring the human figure and I love experimenting with all kinds of media, from charcoal and pastel, to ink and mixed media. I aim to capture and reflect the mood the person might be feeling. My works undoubtedly reflect my own mood as well. I draw people who are deeply absorbed in their own thoughts or activity, whether that is dancing or playing in a band or simply seated; relaxing and day-dreaming.
Sai Kung has a vast array of subject matter to inspire the artist; sampans by the piers, the cafes and restaurants, and our own Tin Hau temple. Further afield, I have visited the country park to sketch. There’s the fantastic natural landscape, the spooky ‘ghost villages’ and the Hakka house dating back to the 1830s, which is now a Folk Museum; a great spot for sketching, both for its exterior and its artefacts.
I think Hong Kong’s art scene is a vibrant one. There is lots out there, from the commercial and well-known names to the new, up-and-coming, and the experimental and conceptual artists. I love the array and contrast of the blue-chip galleries and annual blockbuster art fairs with the art walks, open studios and large industrial settings that you can find in places such as Chai Wan and Fo Tan.
When I was at school my teacher liked a painting that l did of a rainbow and she hung it in the school office. I remember going to the office everyday just to see it hanging on the wall. I loved hearing my peers and adults respond to my work and I was hooked at that moment.
My identity inspires my current work which illustrates the hybrid journey of an Australian artist exploring my Aboriginal heritage in postcolonial Australia.
I am particularly proud of my recent works entitled Virtually Embedded in the Landscape. The images are autobiographical: they are portraits, personalised narratives. My work makes reference to present cultural influences and my Indigenous heritage. It speaks to the many facets of my identity and unites my Australian heritage with other cultural influences.
The silhouetted self-portrait figure (right) is convened with my back to the audience. I gaze in the direction of the horizon and contemplate my journey of self-discovery. A constant sense of not belonging, isolation and bewilderment are experienced as courage and determination are sought after, before embarking towards the horizon in anticipation of unearthing what lies beyond. The landscape offers an abundance of obstacles and unfamiliar ground challenges my every footstep. As l advance towards
the horizon, it steadily moves further away. I acknowledge my predicament and come to the conclusion that I am personally obligated to continue my pursuit of attempting to negotiate the horizon, in order for me to attain self-identity.
l will not be involved in the upcoming ‘Sai Kung Art And About’, however I think it is a fantastic initiative. It provides emerging and professional artists with a great platform to showcase their work and also brings people together to enjoy and celebrate the arts.
Over 20 years ago I painted my first giraffe in Botswana and I have been painting wildlife ever since. I work in all mediums, however, since moving back to Hong Kong five years ago I have been working in Chinese inks. Chinese inks are an unforgiving medium that require me to own every brush stroke and mistake. I like the way the lights and the darks capture the natural form of my subjects.
I love painting and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Growing up in Hong Kong has brought its own highs and lows. I have witnessed the beautiful and wilder parts which I explored with my father as a child gradually destroyed in the name of development. I seriously love Sai Kung. It is teeming with wildlife and the beauty of the landscape simply takes my breath away. How could I not be inspired to paint, living here?
Over the last five years I have been privileged to witness Sai Kung’s collective creative spirit grow as more artists move into the area. It is an exciting time to be an artist in Hong
Kong and an honour to be a part of its creative community.
Over the past few years I have been working with acrylic, pencil and charcoal. Recently, after a long break, I have picked up oils again, and I am enjoying the change. This year I have started a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Hong Kong Art School and RMIT in Australia.
I have worked in many creative areas through the years. Along with extensive international travel, I am constantly inspired by the cultural diversity of this colourful and vibrant city. As an expatriate I have a great interest in the sense of belonging and what brings people to live in a foreign country. I have called Hong Kong home for 16 years.
The first painting I ever sold at an exhibition in Hong Kong came after a considerable break in my own art work. I remember that I put so much time and energy into that particular piece.
Sai Kung is a feast for the creative eye. Our colourful village has something going on everyday. Every now and then I have have to remind myself to stop, look up, and take in the mountains that surround us. We are truly lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world.
I work with a wide range of print and paint media and I am constantly exploring new ways to create artwork. For my last two exhibitions I explored encaustic painting with wax and digital manipulation, both very different processes which I love equally. My work tends to be very layered and textured and is usually inspired by the urban environment.
My inspirations usually come from travelling, drawing and photographing the urban environment, which to me is a mass of colour, texture and pattern. I have recently started a new collection called Meta for selling digital prints online.
I am most proud of my large scale encaustic pieces which sold in the Rare exhibition in 2014. Pouring and painting with hot wax on a large scale was both challenging and rewarding. There is something special about working with such a natural media. In contrast to this, working with digital manipulation is much more suited to travelling, as I can make my art on location rather than waiting to get home to my studio space. I have lived in the Sai Kung area for over 12 years and I love the space and the lifestyle. I have not based any works specifically on the area but living here definitely compliments my art practice.
I have been keen to promote the art community in the local area and was actively involved in the creation of the original Sai Kung Artists group which meets on Saturdays at Studio SKink. There is a strong core group of us but I know that there are more artists out there whom everyone should recognise and celebrate. It is difficult to exhibit and market art in Hong Kong, so the more exposure we can give to local artists the better.
Though I started art at a very young age, deciding to become an artist was a something that happened gradually over many years through studying the works of past masters, education and as a hobby. I wanted to leave my mark for later generations to view and try to decipher to understand my view of the world at that time.
Of the work I have done since moving to Hong Kong, I am most proud of the commissioned mural in Causeway Bay for the restaurant Waa Laa. Called “Landscape from the Peak”, it covers the entirety of the restaurant’s exterior. It is the largest piece I have ever had to paint.
I love this piece because of the challenge, its scale and the limited deadline I was given to complete it. It was an experience all in itself, working from atop a three-metre-tall scaffold as the decorators continued to work around me, the sun glaring down on me, always worrying that Hong Kong’s heavy rain might fall at any moment.
Sai Kung has always been a place of great inspiration to me – I spent a few years of my youth here with my grandparents when I visited after moving to England. I have seen the cultural and structural changes in the town from the eighties to the present. I watched the Sai Kung expand with each and every visit. I would walk around in amazement as large sections of the town had been added within only months of my absence.
Sai Kung offers more inspiration to me than the hustle and bustle of high modernity where everything is often bland, stale and artificial. Themes and designs are copied repeatedly throughout every shopping centre. I feel Hong Kong needs a little push for its artists. We need to give them a chance to compete with others from around the world by showing that Hong Kong has much as creative talent as anywhere else and showcasing what Hong Kong culture is all about.
I started doing pottery about 14 years ago at a Saturday morning hobby class. I wanted to push myself further so I completed my BA in Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), co-presented by the Hong Kong Art School, in 2010.
Clay is so versatile and has such a rich history that I am inspired by the medium itself. My work engages with ideas about how the spaces in which we live are constructed daily, and reflect our cultures, our lives and our histories.
I work mainly in ceramics, but also printmaking, photography and I have recently started exploring working with textiles. My ceramic work usually involves printing onto the clay surface, a technique which allows me to use imagery based on my own photographs of Hong Kong.
I am still particularly proud of my graduation work from 2010: I spent many months in an abandoned village near Sai Kung making work in response to the peculiar history and vibe of the place. The work itself consisted of a site-specific installation which I documented through photographs and a book.
The complex history around Sai Kung – of indigenous villagers, the creation of the New Territories, the Japanese occupation, the impact of the factories in Kowloon and now the housing development boom in the area – is rich pickings for an artist interested in architecture, history and place.
Hong Kong is an exciting place to be, particularly with the political tensions with mainland China; Hong Kong artists are on the front line. The biggest issue, as always, is space,
but there are always exciting things happening under the surface.
I think Sai Kung Art And About is a fantastic opportunity. I will be doing demonstrations on the potter’s wheel while also showing my printing technique.