Next time you stroll through Hong Kong Park, don't be surprised if you receive a potted plant and are asked to grow it at home or in your office or school.
"Plants are associated with nature. By giving away potted plants to visitors, who will bring them to other parts of Hong Kong, we hope to extend the park beyond its boundaries," says Ng Ka-chun, a Baptist University student involved in ArtAlive@Park, a campaign initiated by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and organised by its Art Promotion Office, with the aim of bringing art closer to the community.
The initiative showcases a dazzling array of student artworks at the Hong Kong, Sha Tin, Kowloon, and Tuen Mun parks. Designed around the theme of "City, Community, Nature" and consisting mostly of installation works, the pieces seek to engage the public in a sharing of their memories and experiences in the parks, while inviting them to reflect on issues such as the impact of urban lifestyles on the environment and the use of public space.
Open only to students, the project has attracted nearly 70 young people from four institutions: Baptist University's academy of visual arts, the faculty of architecture of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Chinese University's department of fine arts and Polytechnic University's school of design.
In addition to the artworks, a range of activities, such as performing arts, games and storytelling in co-operation with other community groups, are staged at weekends and public holidays. Guided art tours are also available to help people understand the pieces and meet the artists.
HKU student Derrick To says he is happy to interact with visitors at Tuen Mun Park. Together with another HKU student, To has designed a fence-like structure that serves as a bench. "A fence is a symbol of prohibition. By transforming fences into seats in a humorous way, we hope to turn the fence off," he says.
To says the artworks have drawn differing reactions. "Some think they are interesting and are keen to find out more, while others consider our efforts a waste of time and money," he says. "But it is great that what we do has stimulated discussion."