Making waves

Oceans of talent were on display in The Wharf Hong Kong Secondary School Art Competition’s winning entries.

The students created either on paper or digitally – and were judged according to their chosen medium. As this year’s contest was in collaboration with the World Wide Fund Hong Kong, its theme was “Tales of the Ocean.” While contestants could create freely, there was a special award for the oceanic theme.

“We are delighted by the dexterity and diversity of the entries this year. Students have shown an acute awareness of our ocean environment, and expressed their views in creative ways. Reflections upon different contemporary issues, such as the pandemic, are also clearly identified, ” said Kurt Chan, an adjudicator for the Wharf Art Competition.

Kwok Yan’s A School of Fish, a collage of 30 small oil pastels depicting the different movements of fish in the ocean, took first runner-up in the painting category.

The 17-year-old was inspired by a scuba diving trip around one of Hong Kong’s many islands, where she followed a school of fish around. She found echoes of herself in her subject. “I feel that I am also a member of the school of fish, trying to follow the masses but feeling distressed and confused.”

One of the winners of the special Tales of the Ocean award, Huang Peishan’s Imprisoned Ocean tells the story of ocean aquarium animals. An orca, dolphin, beluga whale, sea turtle and stingray are shown being nailed to the aquarium bleeding, while people take photos of them with phones and cameras.

The 18-year-old hopes that people will be reminded of the enclosed marine animals in aquariums.

“Aquariums all claim that they keep marine animals in captivity for educational purposes and to allow people in the city to have the opportunity to see marine animals, but many marine organisms are not suitable for captivity,” said Huang. “The city imprisoned them in the aquarium as a symbol of the ocean in the city and they are only playthings to be viewed.”

Although ocean conservation is the main theme of this year’s competition, many works were in response to a world full of turmoil and the unknown during this pandemic-ridden year.

The second runner-up in the painting category, Lin Weixiang, drew from his experience of contracting Covid-19. “I am grateful to hospital staff. They poured water, delivered food, and mopped the floor, changing protective gear every time they went in and out of the room.”

His black-and-white Streets like the Incompatible Water and Fire depicts a scene from his days there. “I once asked a staff who was sweeping: ‘You come here every day, are you afraid of being infected?’ She replied: ‘If I don’t clean up, who would?'”

Yeung Tsin-lok, 17, who won one of the merit awards in the digital graphics category, also took the pandemic as his inspiration. His work depicts a scene of fear in a new normal where people are not wearing masks and are coughing.

The warped colors of the digital graphic create a sense of unease that clearly reflects the subject’s angst. “It is as if even the droplets and germs can be seen clearly,” he said.

The winning artwork and outstanding entries will be shown in a roving exhibition in different locations of Hong Kong. Its debut will be at Harbour City from May 25 to June 6.

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