These days, the hot ticket item in Hong Kong is the Art of Basel Hong Kong (Hong Kong Art Fair) which will run from May 15th to 18th. The reason the event is capturing the world is it is most famous art fair in Asia. At the event, amateur artists from all over the world including Korea prepare to show their work to the world. Why is Hong Kong famous for art? The Sookmyung Times thought the reason is related with the creativity and went to Hong Kong to uncover the reason.
Feel Young Hong Kong; Hollywood Road
Hearing Hollywood Road, you might imagine films. However, this image is not representative of the area. Hong Kong’s Hollywood Road started by people about 40 years ago when the US Hollywood Road was established. There are two reasons why this road is named Hollywood. First, Hollywood was the hometown of John Francis David, who was the second governor of Hong Kong. Second, there were many horned hollies* along the roadside when English soldiers were stationed in Hong Kong, so they named the region Hong Kong Hollywood Road. Anyway, Hollywood road is a famous place among Korean tourists.
Along Hollywood Road, I easily found Hong Kong’s creativity. At first, SMT encountered many galleries. Walking along the road, there was also plenty of great art work, which varied in genre like pictures and structures. If one wished, (s)he was free to purchase the piece or merely admire it. I also went into a gallery to appreciate some of the exhibits. I didn’t know the artisans, but I felt like I was at a small art work exhibition. Also, I admired the graffiti. Graffiti is often messy and destroys the atmosphere around it. However, Hollywood Road’s graffiti was beautiful. Many tourists took pictures in front of the graffiti covered walls. I felt Hollywood Road to be very similar to Hongdae in Korea.
Raise Students' Creativity; HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity
To know more about Hong Kong’s creativity, SMT went to the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. The Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity is the first alternative school established in Hong Kong. It was built to raise students’ art creativity by the government, artists, and NGOs. The school gathers students for the sole purpose of nurturing potentially creative talented persons who can change society. According to an interview with Ada Wong, representative of Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, the school selects students through a rigid interview process. She said, “There are many students who want to enter Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, but we can’t select all students because this is a school for art and we have to sort out the students who have no artistic talents.” 15 to 18-year-old students study there for 4 years, and 50% of them go on to an art university.
The most impressive aspect of the school was its environment. Students were encouraged to create art work for or do things related to society. Luckily, SMT was able to learn how students made decisions regarding their personal agendas. At the time of SMT’s visit, a hall which could hold all students was holding a conference. Every student participated freely in the conference, and it gave students the freedom to work on independent activities. The school’s facilities were also impressive. The school had rooms solely for students specializing in the study of design, theater, or sculpture. They could even experience real world career situations in those rooms. Students are free to express their artistic talents at anytime and anywhere in the school. Students sometimes attach political posters about presidents and teachers in the school, but teachers acknowledge and encourage their artistic outcrys. It was truly amazing to see these types of attitudes.
Harmony with Environment; Architecture of Hong Kong
Sheung Wan and Central have high, unique architecture. Like many other cities, Hong Kong has a city center and that is the region called Sheung Wan. The area hosts many various buildings like the new government office, the HSBC building, and the IFC mall. Each building has its own trait, but also has something in common with surrounding buildings; it’s harmony. In Hong Kong, land is limited. However, population is relatively high, which is a problem. Therefore, architects took this into account and built structures high. Also, there are many residential and commercial complexes because of the same reason. I thought these are the examples that use small spaces effectively. After learning about Hong Kong’s design, I felt Hong Kong people to be wise. Although highrise buildings could lead to disasters during fires, the need to go high shows Hong Kong people’s creative ideas coming to life in reality.
Just as Hong Kong is continuously improving, the quality of artwork produced in Hong Kong is improving, too. During the trip, the Soomyung Times unearthed the reason for Hong Kong becoming famous in the art world. It is the atmosphere of Hong Kong. I felt Hong Kong people to be really generous to others. They enjoy others’ work, gather to hear others’ opinions, and harmonize with others effectively. While, the issues of plagiarism are rampid in Korea today. If Koreans were to work together to recognize the rights of others’ contents and keep an open-mind, Korea could also be called ‘Artic and Creative Korea.’
* Holly is an evergreen tree or shrub that has hard, shiny leaves with sharp edges.