China Daily: Drawing on the history of Hong Kong in an insightful way

Source: China Daily | Published: 20 Jul 2014

China Daily: Drawing on the history of Hong Kong in an insightful way

Sunday, July 20, 2014
By Rebecca Lo in Hong Kong


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Haider Kikabhoy talks about the trip as participants sketch. (Photos by Rebecca Lo / China Daily)

On a sunny and sweltering afternoon in July, about 60 people took to the streets of Hong Kong to flex their creative muscles.Armed with pencils and sketchpads, we visited some of the city’s oldest landmarks and learned how the marriage of British rule and Chinese traditions yielded results that can be peeled back to reveal successive layers.

It was the first collaboration between Walkin Hong Kong and Draw Together Hong Kong, two grassroots organizations aimed at giving both locals and tourists a more in-depth view of the city. While Walkin specializes in well-researched local walking tours based on geography or themes such as cemeteries and Chinese festivals, Draw Together uses drawing as the starting point for discussion and community-building.
The event was part of Asia Art Archives’ new initiative Open Saturday, a full-day program of activities that explores art as a method of inquiry. Through collaborators from different walks of life, the activity becomes a platform for local residents to explore different ideas.

Its first Open Saturday, held on July 5, was entitled Drawing on Histories. Participants and collaborators were invited to question the concept of a single authoritative and omnipotent voice for local history. Instead, people explored how layers are built with different meanings attached through the practice of drawing and illustration.

Along with Walkin and Draw Together, other collaborators include MCCM Creations and Incubator for Film & Visual Media in Asia. The activities offered were available for free on a pre-registered basis.

Walkin’s English-language guide Haider Kikabhoy and Cantonese-language guide Chow Chung-wah explained how the tour would work, and then Draw Together’s founder Marissa Fung Shaw gave people some basic instructions on drawing in situ.

“There are no mistakes,” Fung says. “That is why we didn’t give you an eraser. All you need is your pencil and your observation skills. But if you are really desperate, come find one of us with a tag and we’ll lend you our eraser.”

Chow says: “This walk and draw event aims to get people to slow down, savor and sketch our urban surroundings as a way of creatively engaging what we too often take for granted. We believe that with a bit of curiosity, imagination and some new angles, there’s a lot of fun, surprises and fresh knowledge to be had by walking into the city, pen in hand.”
Fung agrees: “Creativity and the role of the arts are advanced through the willingness to experiment outside regular conventions.”

Kikabhoy and Chow led their respective groups initially to Asia Art Archive’s library, where people got a bird’s-eye view of Possession Street before venturing onto it.

Fung, assisted by graphic designer Gloria Wong and architect Jason Nogoy, then encouraged participants to capture what they felt around them not only with their eyes but with all their senses.

At the next stop in Hollywood Road Park, Nogoy led a stretching exercise where he encouraged participants to close their eyes and visualize what they remembered seeing, then open them to sketch it.

We proceeded to other landmarks in the neighborhood, including Pak Shing Temple and Hong Kong Museum of Medical Science, ending with a sharing session of the new artworks at Blake Park.

With quirky insights and advice provided by our guides, we all got a chance to record our own versions of history. It was a fun way to take a closer look at what we take for granted daily.