Leung Hiu-yin, Terence
After studying Industrial Design in Vancouver, what prompted your return to Hong Kong and your subsequent devotion to visual arts?
I chose to return to Hong Kong simply because it was generally perceived to be easier for job-hunting. I worked in product design (computer bags) for a period of time, but it was dull and spiritually unfulfilling. I wanted more opportunities to flex my creative muscle. When I discovered the variety of art specialist courses available at Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre (vA!), I was naturally attracted to try out the different courses – printmaking, ceramics, and sculpture classes, you name it. Then when I saw the recruitment advertisement of Hong Kong Baptist University’s MA in Visual Arts, I realised it was time for me to quit my job and start my artistic journey.
Chi Chi Cheng, Guilia Cudini, Daniel Eaton, Terence Leung
How has spending your formative years in both Hong Kong and Vancouver shaped and influenced your creations?
Canada, to me, is my second life. After receiving unexpectedly poor result for Visual Arts in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, I went to Canada for tertiary education, giving up altogether my pursuit in fine arts. However, the learning environment in Canada (with ceramics studio that opens for all students) rekindled my passion towards arts, as it encourages students to freely create works and acquire knowledge. By comparison, Hong Kong’s art training is more suffocating, with a win-or-lose atmosphere.
My general feelings towards Hong Kong are rather complicated – I would say it is a love-hate relationship. Although I was born in Canada, I consider myself a Hongkonger, and this identity prompts me to explore who I am.
Knowing that you are skilled in printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, and even woodworking, what is your favourite medium and why?
I like all of these mediums as I am always keen to attempt different disciplines of art creation, particularly three-dimensional works. Interestingly, the three mediums differ from each other significantly – printmaking is tranquil, clean and dry; sculpture-making is noisy and messy; and making ceramics gets your hands dirty and wet. Among them, I am most attached to printmaking. Jane Siu, my printmaking teacher at vA!, has given me a lot of inspirations, and I have come to understand arts in a new perspective. In a way, printmaking enlightened me and opened the door to many schools of thoughts.
Public Installation Art
What is your favourite piece or series of work(s)?
My favourite one is Harmonized Hong Kong I, my work for the graduation exhibition of the printmaking course. It is based on the façade of the Central Government Complex (Hong Kong), and inspired by the anti-national education curriculum movement. I made several pre-inked stamps with the patterns of crowd control barrier and water filled barrier. Then, by repeatedly stamping them on the canvas, the image of the Central Government Complex is formed. The production process was captured in a time-lapse video, which was exhibited alongside the piece. This piece is particularly memorable for me not only because it is taxing and time-consuming to make, but also the irony behind as I actually voted for the complex’s “open door” architectural design.
Could you tell us more about “Not for Sale”, your upcoming exhibition at PMQ? What is your view on money, arts and society?
“Not for Sale” does not refer to the works themselves, but the idea that money is not the be-all and end-all measure of an item’s value. This is my first solo exhibition, and my first impression towards the exhibition venue, PMQ, is that of a commercial venue. Thus, in a place where everything seems to be purchasable, I wanted to show people artworks that cannot be bought.
Troubled by recent political turmoil and the social environment in Hong Kong, the exhibition will adopt a funeral setting. A series of black-and-white drawings featuring a skeletal baby as the protagonist will be showcased. It symbolises Hong Kong being a living “stillborn”. In addition, I will carve a coffin-shaped cradle from wood with a rocking mechanism, and place it in the middle of the room. The coffin-cradle will be empty though, leaving room for audience to imagine and reflect.
The works featured in the exhibition were created during the social movements and on-going pandemic. The greatest challenge you encountered during the process is…
My mood hit rock bottom during the anti-extradition bill movement. I felt tense every single day, and the entire society seemed to be in a state of fatigue. I wanted to force myself to continue with my creations then, but I simply could not concentrate. Later on, due to the pandemic, I was inspired by HongKongers snapping up daily necessities, and so created Ransom Money, a series of printmaking works that resembles Monopoly money. During that period, I remained home most of the time, the format of art creation was therefore constrained by limited space.
Apart from this exhibition, a lot of your works are focused on either reflections about life or dialogues between self and society. What are your motivations in exploring these topics?
I think this is related to my personality. I am someone who upholds universal values and righteousness. Consequently, I pay close attention to injustices in the society. In my opinion, arts should not be merely a quest for aesthetics devoid of personal thoughts. Therefore, I always respond to pressing social issues and express my opinions through my works.
Set of 4
You have been engaged in community arts and participatory arts in recent years. Could you share some of these experiences with us?
I have participated in the “Touch Art Festival” during my Master’s studies, and came across community arts and participatory arts. My classmates and I also came up with a social experiment – we carried our work The Bubble, a portable sound-absorbing cube, to the streets of Mong Kok, bringing moments of serenity for passers-by. As of my work Whatever Comes Around Goes Around for community arts exhibition “Art Connects Kwun Tong”, the windmills are made up of flyers collected in Kwun Tong’s industrial area. As the title implies, the windmills are placed at the roller skating rink at Yuet Wah Street Playground, giving Kwun Tong’s uphill residential area a breath of the industrial area.
Last year, I joined other artists in presenting the exhibition “Tale of Uselessness”. Just like the Museum of Broken Relationships, we collected “chicken ribs” – knickknacks that people are unwilling to throw away. We archived and shared the stories behind these objects, and received positive feedback.