"I suspect human nature is inherently evil. Humans need more space, so they sacrifice nature."

Wenda Yiu

Wenda Yiu

Wenda Yiu (L6-19) graduated with a BA in Fine Art from RMIT University (co-presented with Hong Kong Art School), major in painting.

Wenda likes to borrow different motifs to show an alternative side of Hong Kong. She wants to preserve things that are disappearing and being forgotten. She takes a contemporary approach to drawing old maps, and blurs the definition of history by redefining the meaning of our culture.

Website: www.wendayiu.com

Image courtesy of the Artist
Q1. J

How did your unique style of new ink painting evolved?

A1. W

Long ago, I came across some ancient Chinese maps and was drawn to them. They have interesting methods and perspectives for depicting landmarks. By just using simple lines and no colour, they were able to convey vivid contents, which I find magical. I had not studied ink painting before and did not have a deep understanding of Chinese ink painting methods. I wanted to learn the techniques of depiction from these ancient maps and to incorporate my own spontaneous painting style to highlight the key points I wish to express. Since I do not have the burden of an ink painting background, I am more unrestrained with the lines and not limited by the rules. I have also incorporated different painting methods in my creative process, blending ancient and modern elements to form my own style.

Q2. J

Do you think maps reflect anything other than geographic information?

A2. W

I believe every place or region has its unique and irreplaceable history, and its appearance changes over time. Yet there are also aspects that remain constant and have persisted in the collective memory of certain generations. Like in Hong Kong, even people living in one district may carry stereotypical preconceptions or shared memories of another district.

Image courtesy of the Artist

Image courtesy of the Artist

Q3. J

When drawing maps, do you focus on realistic representation? How do you use your artistic work to express the core values that underlie a particular place?

A3. W

To me, realism can simply be a concrete object, or a representative person or event that guides you to further associations. For example, using the term “New Territories Ox” as a metaphor for hardworking people, or the Tai On Building in Sai Wan Ho evoking thoughts of local snacks… I really want to compile these established perceptions, as if integrating them into a travel guide for Hong Kong people, and record them in the form of a map.

Q4. J

Among art education, interactive collaborative creation and personal artistic creation, which aspect do you value the most? Why?

A4. W

I place more emphasis on personal artistic creation. I need to consistently create and deepen my work, to find my creative direction, before I can create work that impact on other people. Art education and interactive collaborative creation both involve interacting with others. If I lack my own perspective or attitude, I will be easily influenced by others. I also have to accept that other people may be different, and I must learn to be more accommodating.

Image courtesy of the Artist

Q5. J

When researching maps of Hong Kong, have you had any unexpected discoveries?

A5. W

Studying old maps of Hong Kong, I found that the names of many places have experienced drastic changes over the years. The social and historical context of a place could be found in its old name. For example, the name “Kwun Tong” alludes to it being related to officials, as its current location was where the municipal salt fields used to be. The name could be traced a long way back in the old maps.

Q6. J

What factors lead you to choose to obscure the outlines of history? And what kind of Hong Kong culture do you hope to redefine?

A6. W

Historical time is linear, divided into different eras. In the process of understanding history, one discovers timeless things, learns about what happened in the past, and gains deeper knowledge about the places. It allows you to see the different facets of a place, and how the past has influenced the present.

If each era is divided by a definitive boundary line, it becomes difficult to see the relationship between them, and one cannot properly analyse some of the hidden meanings within. However, art can break through such frameworks. Imagine if the great and wise Zhuge Liang (Chinese statesman, strategist and inventor AD 181-234) came to the modern era, what kind of person would he be? If I could travel back to the past, how would I face that world?

Perhaps I cannot describe it with words, but I want to use art to define some aspects of culture that are important to me, so that I may preserve them and prevent them from becoming forgotten or overlooked in the future.

Image courtesy of the Artist