Last month, 20 shortlisted young artists used their creativity, confidence and presentation skills to wow the judges in their final interviews for the Best Visual Artist Award in the South China Morning Post's Student of the Year competition.
The students showed great ability and originality with their sophisticated monotone sketches, vibrant watercolour drawings and tongue-in-cheek paintings.
Kevin Kwong, one of the judges and editor of SCMP's 48 Hours magazine, said some submissions challenged the contest's theme set by the organisers. "How would you interpret 'celebrating Hong Kong'? Does it have to be all jolly?" he asked. "I'm happy to see teenagers come up with some very unconventional ideas." The personality of one's work is also very important, he said.
Henry Lau, founder of Simply Art & Young Artists Foundation, thinks the winner should be able to explain the inspiration and message behind their artwork during the presentation. He or she should have also performed very well in local and global competitions and, most importantly, take art seriously, Lau said.
Young Post spoke to three of the finalists:
What art technique did you use in your entry for the competition?
Line art in black and white to make the movements and details stand out. I asked myself what Hong Kong means to me and the word mother popped up. That's why I sketched a lady lovingly embracing her "child" - Victoria Harbour, bamboo scaffoldings and Cantonese opera.
Tini Tang Hau-yin, Australian International School
What inspired you to give the contest's theme, "Celebrating Hong Kong", a twist in your painting?
While Hong Kong should take pride in its achievements, I think we are too relaxed and arrogant. We think we will never be overtaken by Singapore and Shanghai. But that's not true. Those cities are working hard to improve themselves and we would be walking into a dead end if we focus only on commerce and neglect other industries. That's why my work depicts a Hongkonger being spied on by his rivals.
Gordon Chan Hau-yan, Jockey Club Ti-I College
What kind of preparation do you need before putting paint brush to paper?
I like to draw people's attention to social issues such as climate change and fur production through my artworks. Before I begin a piece, I compile a portfolio with mind-maps, newspaper cuttings and sketches. This allows me to get a good picture of the subject and capture the key messages on the canvas.
For example, one of my pieces in the climate change series features a blue polar bear with paint dripping from its face, signifying the melting of ice, and the blood and tears of polar animals. I've also incorporated a heavily-polluting factory and an oil spill into the creature's face to highlight what is destroying its home.
Mark Unico Tan, Fung Kai No 1 Secondary School