The annual Wharf Secondary School Art Competition, open to Hong Kong students from Form One to Six, has announced winners across three categories, under the theme of “Space and Place”.
The winner of the digital graphics category and the runner-up in the painting category recently spoke to Young Post about how their experiences in Hong Kong have shaped their art.
Amy Tsui Man-sze, the digital graphics champion, shared how her piece was inspired by studying for her university entrance exams amid the city’s fifth wave of Covid-19.
“[The work’s setting is] the angle I had during my Zoom lessons, during the pandemic,” explained the Form Six student from Christian and Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School. “I was very confused [about the future] … which is why I created this piece.”
The theme of this year’s competition was “Space and Place”. Photo: Wharf Secondary School Art Competition
In the painting, the girl wears an expression of sadness and confusion, a stark contrast to the bright and colourful details that surround her. While the character looks out the window, wishing to be like the people in the streets, free of her anxieties, Amy explained she used bright hues of yellow and orange to represent her many hopes and remind her audience to look at the silver lining of every situation.
“That’s why I wanted to use this direction and position … to show that although I have Zoom lessons and am struggling with the future, I have many hopes,” said the 17-year-old artist, adding that the goldfish were symbols of freedom and childhood expectations.
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“I think they are happy, and the picture represents freedom … I drew them around me and in the sky because I want my soul to swim like the goldfish.”
Amy created her piece using an app on her iPad that she taught herself to use. She felt digital art was more flexible than traditional art styles, as she could use different mediums, like watercolour or colour pencils, in one piece. The special effects brightened the piece, highlighting the artist’s message about hope.
Her top tip for artists is to find inspiration from their experiences. While there are many social issues people can represent in their work, she emphasised the importance of channelling one’s struggles into art.
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“For example, my artwork is about the pandemic. I think it is an issue that I am really experiencing, and I am really struggling with, and focusing on this kind of a social issue will help us put more real emotion into the picture, and will also bring about a better result,” said the teen, who plans to study arts in university and become an art teacher.
Dylan Kwok, a judge for the competition, said the digital graphics category showcased the skills of modern youth.
“To the new generation, or what we call the internet native … [digital media] has probably become an intuitive technique they have internalised,” the judge explained, adding that the students had surprised him with the themes of their submissions.
More than 1,000 students entered the competition this year. Photo: Wharf Secondary School Art Competition
“I had the impression that secondary students would tend to draw something more optimistic and bright … I realised their work can be very diversified. I am both excited and happy about it.”
Kan King-lun, a 13-year-old artist from Renaissance College Hong Kong, came in second place in the painting category. Inspired by the theme, “Space and Place”, he created a piece about the city’s subdivided flats, using a butcher, his knife and a chopping board to discuss housing issues in a thought-provoking way.
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“I spent a lot of time walking around Hong Kong to make sure the colour was accurate. I asked my parents to take pictures of me while holding a knife, to ensure the angle was accurate,” the Year Nine student shared, adding that he also researched online and watched property television shows to better depict the city’s building structures.
“I wanted it to be realistic, easy for people to interpret and understand, and be able to relate to, as this issue is very prevalent among people in Hong Kong, and even in New York and London.”
Kan King-lun’s oil painting titled, 肉檔 · 劏房篇, which translates to “meat store, subdivided flat series”. Photo: Wharf Secondary School Art Competition
Winning second place was a shock for King, as it was only his second time creating an oil painting. He thought his mother was joking when she told him about the results.
“People think that it’s impressive to win a competition, but if you try your best and have a good concept, even if you lose, it will still bring you happiness,” the young artist shared.
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King hopes to continue to use art as a medium to educate people on social issues – a mission he began in 2016 when he published his first picture book for Greenpeace, The Tale of Tom the Turtle.
“[Back then] I had fun and it was more like a hobby, now it involves passion and more seriousness … But it is just as much fun as it was.”
The winning pieces will be displayed at Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill until July 14.