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."
ArtAlive@Park is on until the end of the month. Details at www.artaliveatpark.hk
Memories and boundaries, ecologies and passageways: Artists’ statements
Cindy Chan and friends (CUHK)
“Some facilities at Sha Tin Park have been removed, such as the pirate boat. By visiting our work of a sandglass with the image of a pirate boat, visitors can reminisce about the old days.”
Derrick To and friend (HKU)
“The bench doesn’t only provide seats for visitors, it also challenges their view of public space by spreading the message that fences can be soft and malleable.”
Ecko Chan (PolyU) “Pollution is such a serious problem that our children may have to wear masks in the future. We want to issue a warning against apathy and encourage action to save the environment.”
Ng Ka-chun and friend (BaptistU)
“Hong Kong Park is a passageway for people. The concept of grabbing something on your way and taking it to wherever you’re going fits the park’s characteristic.”