“I’m nervous.” Wan Lok-yiu, a 16-year-old student from Heep Yunn School, echoes a common sentiment in the waiting room at the InnoCentre, where the candidates for Student of the Year (SOTY) – Visual Artist are gathered. One by one they are called in to stand before the judges, and nerves are running high.
“I’m nervous about the questions the judges might ask us,” says Dylan Wan Wai-lam, also 16, from STFA Yung Yau College. “We cannot prepare for the questions.”
“I’m not really feeling that great or cool,” agrees Dylan’s classmate, Raymond Wong Yiu-nam, also 16. “I’m kind of nervous that the judges will be too strict on my artwork.”
While the students are worried about making a good impression, at the same time they are eager to hear what the judges have to say about their art.
“Criticism is great, I need it to improve myself,” says Raymond.
Chan Sze-wai, 15, from Chinese Foundation Secondary School, says she’s eager to explain her work to the judges. “I want to share my artwork with more people and I want to know their comments,” she says.
Visual arts students have a wide range to choose from. Sze-wai does Chinese calligraphy and painting, while Raymond and Dylan are into 3D computer animation. There are oil paintings, water colours and pen illustrations.
Natalya Ho, 17, from German Swiss International School, specialises in installations. “I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been able to do some public art,” she says. “I designed a scarf for a breast cancer foundation for its 10th anniversary. I also did a project for Ocean Park for its conservation centre.”
Thomas Hau Tak-kwong, 16, from Jockey Club Ti-I College, had more of a political message. “I designed a Chinese chessboard, which is about harmony,” he explains. “Because after the Umbrella Revolution, society is so messy. Different people have different opinions on this revolution, so I think I have to make an artwork to improve their relationships and make Hong Kong a more harmonious place.”
The only thing that unifies the diverse artwork in the room is the theme for the masterpieces the students had created as candidates for SOTY Visual Artist: “be inspired.”
Some of them are facing the SOTY judges for the first time. But Rachel Ma On-ki, 17, from Good Hope School, has some previous experience. She was short-listed as a candidate last year, and has been working to improve her skills in the hopes of impressing the judges again this year. “I have discovered more about different perspectives and I have broadened the genres of my artwork to make my art more interesting,” she says. “I practised painting more, and I tried a lot more media than before to improve my skills and prepare myself.”
And as the students returned after being interviewed by the judges, their nerves seemed to have disappeared and they were more confident.
“I think I did well,” says Ambrose Wong Hei-nam, 16, from Diocesan Boys’ School. “I expressed everything I wanted to express.”
“There’s only 10 minutes,” Ambrose explains. “I wanted to talk more about my future. But I just focused on what I do now in those 10 minutes. But I actually have a lot of aspirations and I really wanted to share with the judges what I want to do in the future.”
“I was so nervous waiting,” says Thomas. “But when I went in, I wasn’t that nervous.”
“It went great,” he says.