Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras is one of Hong Kong's largest festivals, taking place in November and displaying visual and performance art for the public. The highlight of the event is a parade of huge art works and puppets through Victoria Park.
A lot of preparation goes into such a big arts event, and Young Post junior reporter Annette Kim Na-yeon was invited to check out one of the preparation workshops, where students made giant puppets for the parade. This is what she saw …
Amidst a riot of colours, a group of students and two professional artists bonded over their passion for creating art. They worked together to build a giant puppet for the Arts in the Park Mardi Gras event. Jimmy Hsieh, who has more than 10 years' experience in making mascots and puppets, and Candice Keung Lap-yu, an applied arts graduate and teaching artist for various groups, have been working with Arts in the Park since its first parade six years ago. This year, they led a workshop at Kau Yan College to create visual and performance art for this year's theme, "Defying Gravity".
The theme celebrates the relationship between science and art, and Hsieh and Keung tackled the sub-topic "Perfect Creatures" which is inspired by robotics.
Hsieh and Keung went to the workshop with designs for robotic puppets, but as the students were all girls, the first challenge for the artists was overcoming the girls' reluctance to work on such a boyish design. "This theme was particularly challenging because the ideas that the girls came up with were too cute for robots," said Hsieh. As a compromise, the artists added feminine touches to their original designs, such as pink, studded hearts.
Throughout the project, the artists and students learned the value of teamwork and discovered new things together. I asked one of the students at the workshop, Ruby, what she felt was the most important thing she learned from this project, and she readily replied: "Teamwork." Because the puppets are so large, the team had to divide and specialise. This meant one person was assigned the task of painting, another the task of gluing, and so on.
Although the artists were there to teach the students, the process was "more [about] sharing ideas rather than expecting the students to do what we teach them", said Keung. Hsieh and Keung were always pleasantly surprised when the students suggested more efficient methods of production. "We teach them step by step, but then they get lazy and find some clever method to create a shortcut," said Keung.
The aim of Arts in the Park is to unite people in Hong Kong with the arts, and this happens well before the event. So much bonding takes place during the preparation workshops that it becomes quite emotional during the parade. "I feel proudest when I see the students parading with their creations on the day, because I know we accomplished something together which we could have never done alone," said Hsieh.
Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras 2014 will be held on November 15 and 16. The Grand Finale Parade starts on the final day in Victoria Park at 3pm and ends in Causeway Bay by 4.30pm. Admission is free.