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The Young Reporter

Culture & Leisure

Young artists painting their paths

Can art and business go hand in hand? by Jianne Soriano Hong Kong has witnessed a boom in the art industry in recent years, thanks to international fairs like Art Basel, Art Central, and the development of the West Kowloon Culture district, while this may provides opportunities for business. Young artists are not benefiting, says University of Hong Kong student, Elaine Chiu. She has 25 exhibitions under her belt. "[The Hong Kong art industry] is very international and very rarely would Hong Kong organise its own art fairs. I'm not sure if this is a good trend for local artists as we have to appeal to the international market to be successful." Just this year, Chiu has had her artworks exhibited in France, Italy and Bulgaria. But Chiu believes  that  Hong Kong's emphasis on commercialising art is a blow to local artists. Compared with her experience in the UK where she sees art as "more public", the 20-year-old feels that Hong Kong's art atmosphere "isn't as strong." She pointed out that it is difficult to make her artworks seen in the local community because of the lack of funding, opportunities and connections. "Without a gallery representation, you cannot get into the art scene here in Hong Kong. It's always about money, relationship and connections," she added. Preconceived beliefs that ‘art can't feed you' has been one of the reasons why the art scene in Hong Kong is underdeveloped, according to Nicky Chan, the founder of tgt Gallery. "When we were young, teachers always said ‘Art is a good way to express your emotion'. Yet what they were really implying was ‘Don't do art when you grow up', he said. Chan's tgt gallery aims to provide an interactive platform for young local artists to share their creativity and talent. The gallery …


A rise of local prosthetic makeup

Special effect makeup artist Gary Chan seeks ways to support artists in Hong Kong by Connie Fong and Susan Gao A sweaty-stocky meat deliveryman dismembers the corpse of a 16-year-old female prostitute, tearing the skin from her face. The signature bloody scene appeared in the award-winning local crime movie "Port of Call". 26-year-old Gary Chan Ka-wai was in charge of special makeup effects. Dubbed "the little king" in the field, Mr Chan says he wants to be more than just a makeup artist. He hopes to improve the art industry and society through his work. "I was lucky that I got lots of opportunities," said Mr Chan. He wants to create more opportunities for others. As Mr Chan participated in many local art competitions, he found out that many of the rules and judges in those competitions were not professional or qualified. So, he decided to organise one himself. At the moment, Mr Chan is organising a face-painting competition for local artists. Mr Chan said its aim is to support local artists, since filmmakers nowadays usually prefer hiring foreigners. "The moon seems fuller in foreign lands," he said. Many production companies either simply edit the script and stories to eliminate the need for special makeup or find foreign makeup artists if they have enough budgets. Mr Chan implores production companies to hire locally - and to respect local artists by giving them a budget to work with. "Don't think that we're beggars," he told The Young Reporter. Although many skilled artists have emerged in Hong Kong, the major problem in the prosthetic makeup industry is still a shortage of talent, he added. It takes at least a year to train a qualified special makeup artist, but many people do not have that patience, he said. After a couple of weeks …

Health & Environment

Healing with rhythm and melody

Music therapy helps children with autism by Daisy Lee In a room filled with playful and catchy melodies, Sam Lawrence sits beside an electric piano, moving along the rhythm played by his music therapist. There are no words but his body movements express the joy he finds. Sam has a chromosome abnormality, which has ose symptoms resembling those of autism spectrum disorder. His journey with music therapy began when his therapist discovered that he reacted positively with music.Once the therapist discovered that he reacted positively to music, his journey with music therapy started. Rona Grecia has been Sam's nursemaid for almost 11 years. After accompanying him in the music therapy sessions for three years, she has seen observed that how music therapy has given Sam a chance to express himself.   Sam has a chromosome abnormality. His Ose symptoms resemble those of autism spectrum disorders. "He used to react slowly to (his) therapist's music or instructions, but now I am impressed to see his improvement in interactions. He can even express what instruments and music he likes. Sam is calm and happy when he is with music," she said. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is effective in improving their interpersonal and communication skills. Jockey Club Sarah Roe School offers in-house music therapy to children with special needs. "Children with autism always live in their own world. Music serves like a cue, which can bring their attention back into reality and make them feel connected to the real world," said Joanne Wu, a music therapist at JCSRS. "For example, we always play ‘Hello Song' when a session starts, which serves as a signal and converge (grabs) the children's attention," she said. Ms Wu added that music is a kind of …

The Young Reporter Vol. 49

  • 2016-10-01


Culture & Leisure

Ancient Art in a Modern City

Handmade ukuleles bring happy sounds to Hong Kong by Tracy Zhang Along the rugged track on Cheung Chau Island, next to the snack and souvenirs stores, ukuleles are among the attractions. Originally from Hawaii, this instrument has become popular among Hong Kong youth in recent years, because it has been featured in romantic movies and soap operas. Located on one of the busiest streets in Cheung Chau island, Benny Cheng's rock music school is decorated with colorful ukuleles. "People who come to Cheung Chau care more about the fish balls than the handmade ukuleles. Few would stop by and appreciate them," said Mr Cheng, who founded G.V.S Rock School. He thinks Hong Kong people are often too busy to slow down and pay attention to handmade products. "But the creative and colorful ukuleles hanging here more or less attract some attention," he added. The art of handcrafted ukeleles 1879 in Portugal. Hand made instruments were  gradually replaced by factory-made products, which are often perfectly polished. "I can always buy a perfect ukulele in Hong Kong, but what I can't do is to make it with my hands and enjoy the process," said Evan Binkley, the founder of the brand Fish Ukulele. Mr. Binkley fills his house with unique ukuleles made from moon cake tins, papayas, bamboo and so on. "The way I make ukuleles is different from other people. I have my own style and I want something different," said Mr Binkley. "Different materials create different tones and sounds, which make them unique," he said, while playing one made from a papaya that he picked up from the garbage. "The problem is that people cannot make money doing that. A handmade ukulele costs much more money and time than one produced in a factory," he said. A group of social …


Connecting with Tattoos

"The ink may be skin deep, but the accent is deeper." By Connie Fong and Cecilia Wong Jayers Ko is not your typical tattoo artist. "The ink may be skin-deep, but the accent is bone-deep." she said. For her, tattoos are more than just decorations. It is an art of self-expression.She believes the message in a tattoo goes beyond space and time constraints to connect with people. Ms Ko's first tattoo was a little blue star on her left wrist. "What it is, graphically, doesn't matter; but it's the placement that matters a lot. It is somewhere obvious to me," she said. It reminds her to move on from hard times. "I needed something eternal to calm me down," she said. The idea of getting a tattoo popped into her mind when she was 19. She was going through a tough time. She had to take up the responsibility of taking care of her brother. Later, she was ditched by her boyfriend whom she was madly in love with at that time. She went into a random tattoo shop in Thailand, picked a random picture and a random tattoo artist to edge the blue star on to her skin. That marked marking her start to a new life. "My mum asked me if I was a prostitute when she saw the tattoo," Ms Ko said. Her parents were against her becoming a tattoo artist. But after getting her first tattoo, she studied psychology and searched for information about tattoos online. She tried but failed to get an apprenticeship. With no background in art, Ms Ko started working on her portfolio by doing paintings on paper. She then sent an email to a traditional tattooist requesting an apprenticeship. "I guess it's my passion that touched him," she said. "Apprenticeship is a …

Culture & Leisure

Art in the City

A set of sculptures recently sparked calls of panic. Does Hong Kong appreciate public art? By Emily Cheung When the public art installation "Event Horizon Hong Kong" , first went on display on a rooftop in Central in November, 2015, people mistook the sculpture of a life-sized naked man as a suicide suspect and called the police. "I spotted it a long time ago. But to be honest, I don't know why it has to be there," said Ms Chu Tze-yan, who works nearby. The controversial art project featured 31 fiberglass sculptures by artist, Antony Gormley. The figures stand on streets or rooftops across the city. "The idea was to underline the relationship between human and space," says Mr Gormley. "Public art allows free thinking and the community may not feel comfortable with sculptures like that at first," said Antony J. Chan, the British Council's Head of Art and Creative Industries, who organized  "Event Horizon Hong Kong" . Mr Chan believes that the police calls that resulted from his artwork show a lack of understanding of public art. But Hong Kong is no stranger to public art .  In early 1999, the  government launched  a Public Art Scheme to boost creativity and to bring artistic elements to the public. Since then, more than 20 sets of public art pieces have been on display. What is regarded by some as sophisticated public art, such as Mr Gormley's naked men, is seldom appreciated. Instead, many seem to think that art should be decorative rather than artistic expression. "I don't see the need to  understand those artwork thoroughly. It is fine a long as they  make the place more beautiful and visually attractive ," said Travis Mackenzie, a tourist from Washington. He and many tourists find pleasure in seeing the artwork, though some do …

Health & Environment

Stretched to the limits

A shortage of nurses at public hospitals adds tension to patient care By Richelia Yeung & Tiffany Lui Public hospitals in Hong Kong serve 90 percent of all the patients in the territory, yet employs only 40 percent of doctors according to a report published by the Food and Health Bureau in 2015. Medical staff were pushed to their limits during a recent outbreak of influenza. Miss X, a registered nurse working in the orthopedics department of a public hospital, says medical staff feel like they are ‘fighting a war with no weapons '. "As nurses, we want to provide a good care for the patients," she says, "but the hospital is not giving us enough support, especially when it comes to manpower." The nurse says there are only six nurses per shift taking care of more than 50 patients. Sometimes it is down to four or five nurses if someone falls ill. "We are lucky if the patients are all in stable conditions, otherwise we would be under a lot of psychological pressure if anything happens all of a sudden," she said. The Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff addressed an open letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in March. They said  medical staff is overworked. The nurse-to-patient ratio, they said, was 1:12, far exceeding the international standard of 1:6. "No matter which department it is, there are more patients during the influenza season," says the nurse. "When one department is in need, others departments need to give a helping hand. There is a ripple effect." She says Lunar New Year is the only time when they get some relief because it is taboo for Chinese people to go to hospital during the holiday. "Experienced staff quit their jobs in public hospitals and  work at private hospitals because they …


Bobsy Gaia: 25 years of Ecopreneurship in Hong Kong

The story of an entrepreneur and his eco-friendly businesses By Celia Lai and Crystal Tai Wearing a man bun and a long grey beard, Bobsy Gaia almost has the look of a Taoist priest from Chinese mythology. The "ecopreneur" was born in Lebanon and has been pioneering socially responsible business in Hong Kong since 1992. He is the co-founder of several vegetarian restaurants, including "MANA! Fast Slow Food". Just like its owner, "MANA! Fast Slow Food" is vibrant yet relaxing. The furniture is made of recycled materials and the menu is on a chalk board. The restaurant regularly promotes eco friendly campaigns. For example, "World Water Day" was written in delightful colours on March 22 on the board to remind people to conserve water. Mindful of the environment, Bobsy is on a mission to educate consumers to "eat like it matters". His restaurant serves organic produce. Bobsy became an "ecopreneur" when he started to promote social responsibility in business in 1989. He was a fashion designer at the time, but came up with the idea in a moment of despair. "I was financially broke at that time in Bangkok. At the same time, many profound changes were happening in the world such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War," said Bobsy, "there were also Nelson Mandela, mass protests over the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and women fighting for equality. These movements showed the awakening of human power. It was speaking to me. I suddenly realized there was something bigger than me going on," he said. The awakening, Bobsy thought, was a game change in man's perception of the world. That is similar to the realisation that the Earth is round and not flat. "The people in this humanitarian movement are amazingly creative …


An Aussie turned Hong Konger

by Paulus Choy, James Ho   Gregory Charles Rivers considers himself every bit a Hong Konger. " I care about the city, I love the Canto songs, and the language," he said. Mr. Rivers  is Australian. He moved to Hong Kong nearly 20 years ago, and has since acted in a number of Hong Kong drama productions and TV shows. He shot to fame again recently with his  performance in the 100Most Magazine award ceremony. Rock and heavy metal music was popular when he was in college, but Mr. Rivers was not fond of those. Several of his Hong Kong friends introduced him to Cantopop and that was exactly what he liked. His stage name, Ho Kwok-wing, came from the famous deceased Cantopop singer Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing. His love of Cantonese music drove him to learn the language. He got his hands on a cassette tape when he was in university, but the program only taught six of the nine intonations of Cantonese. He eventually came to Hong Kong in 1987 with a friend. Later on he auditioned for a role at TVB, and has never looked back. "I did not have confidence that I could do what TVB wanted, I think I got in because TVB didn't have another choice," he said. Mr. Rivers feels that the Hong Kong entertainment scene has done little to welcome foreign actors. "Script writers seem to forget that foreign actors could add flavor to a story, and I don't understand why,." he said. He acted in a number of TV shows, and also sang on the side. But his big break came when 100Most invited him to rap on stage. He was crowned the "real Hong Konger", and he feels that a true Hong Konger needs to really care about his home town …