School in bid to put nude work on display

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 July, 1995, 12:00am


THE male nude sculpture branded indecent by the Obscene Articles Tribunal may go on show at a secondary school.

The Dame Elisabeth Frink life-size New Man will be exhibited at the Jockey Club Ti-I College in Sha Tin if headmaster Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung gets the go-ahead from the statue's owner.

After three years as a member of the tribunal, Mr Chang recently resigned in protest at the body's decision to classify New Man as indecent.

Mr Chang, who is also a member of the Arts Development Council, is determined to give his students the chance to broaden their horizons as far as art and nudity are concerned.

'I think it's time for us to educate our students and the public about nude art - it's not indecent, it's art.

'We have a large art department concerned with art appreciation and history, and for us to be able to display a nude sculpture of this calibre would go a long way towards promoting nude art.

'Other schools would be able to come and have a look, and we would prepare some material giving the background to the sculpture. We would also get some experts over to have a seminar or forum on the statue,' he said.

There have been no protests from other teachers over his plan, but he is aware there could be a backlash from concerned parents.

'We will circulate a letter to parents explaining the purpose of the display, I hope they would keep open minds,' he said, adding: 'But in education we sometimes have to take a few risks.' Mr Chang said he will be writing an official letter to sculpture's owner, Woo Po-shing, for permission to display the artwork, which is currently in the foyer of Mr Woo's Kailey Tower in Central.

Oscar Ho Hing-kay, exhibition director at the Hong Kong Arts Centre and also an Arts Development Council member, heralded the idea to broaden student's minds as a measure to stamp out 'narrow-mindedness in Hong Kong'.

'There's nothing shameful about the human body. This whole issue has reflected what is wrong with education if people are still getting confused between nudity and obscenity.

'Most people who have seen the sculpture have responded positively to it, they do not find it obscene,' he said.

Even the Education Department has no objections to the sculpture being exposed to 12-19 year olds.

A spokesman elaborated: 'The department has no objections to displaying the sculpture in the school. Schools have their discretion to organise extra-curricular school activities according to their needs.

'We trust teachers will give appropriate guidance to students.'