What should you do with your old keyboards, phones, wires, cassettes, and magazine holders? Most people simply throw them away, but artists Karen Pow Cheuk-mei and Chao Ham-kae turn them into artwork. Now, they’ve been getting teens in on the act, too.
Teaming up with the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, the pair helped secondary school students produce the “Eco-art installation” at The Loop, the new exhibition centre at Taikoo Place. The aim of the artwork is to promote reusing and recycling everyday products.
The artists’ three protégés were Erica Wu Chi-shun, Annie Choi On-ni and Vicky Kwok Chun-ki.
“The previous works I’ve produced were to express my personal feelings,” Erica, a 17-year-old student from GT (Ellen Yeung) College, told Young Post. “But this was my first time working on a public display, where the purpose is to spread a message to the community.”
The artwork is a relief mural showing a bird’s eye view of Hong Kong, made up of everyday waste items plastered on a wall. The items are arranged in a circular pattern to reflect the cycle of a product.
“When people no longer need an item, they just dump it in a bin. This cycle is not environmentally friendly. We want to highlight another kind of cycle to show that items can be recycled and reused,” said Pow. For this reason, she calls the mural a ‘flowing city’.
Annie, a 15-year-old student from Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School (SGSS), said that most items were found at a construction site in Taikoo Place. Stumbling across unexpected items was one of the most interesting parts of the project, she said.
“One of the items was a cassette recorder. We tried to play it and it was still working.”
Annie added that “it was amazing to be able to transform an old item into something meaningful.”
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However, it wasn’t an easy process. According to Erica, working on a large-scale piece of art was a big leap from doing art lessons at school.
“When Pow took some of the aluminium railings and asked if anyone wanted to work on cutting them down to usable size, no one volunteered. It was something we had never done at school” said Erica. “I volunteered because I thought it would be fun – but I saw some sparks when I sawed the railings.”
Vicky, 16, also from SGSS, explained how she plastered the items on the wall.
“The wooden planks were too fragile for screws, so for some items we used cement, which helped add texture to the layers of the mural and firmly plaster the items to the wall. We also had to put safety first,” she said.
The team hopes the Eco-art installation will make people think twice before throwing away unwanted items.
“We’ve given a new life to these items,” said Annie. “We hope that others will want to protect the environment after seeing this mural.”
“Don’t just throw old possessions away,” she added, “think about what they can be used for.”