Masterly strokes at contest
THE loss of a stroke in one character did not stop Lam Chi-man from winning first place in the primary students section of this year's Hongkong Bank-sponsored Chinese calligraphy competition.
However, the judges reminded the 11-year-old to be more careful in observing the structure of Chinese characters in the future.
The prize-giving ceremony was held recently at the bank's headquarters.
Twenty-four winners were awarded in three categories: primary students, secondary students and open group.
Bank chairman Mr John Gray said contestants this year ranged from six-year-olds to senior citizens living in an old folks home.
Chi-man, who studies in Sha Tin, also won first place last year.
He first started calligraphy classes at a community centre when he was six years old.
His growing interest saw him taking part in the contest four times, and on his first attempt he won a merit prize.
Tai Kam-san, 19, from Clementi Secondary School, took the honours in the secondary school category.
Like Chi-man, he had drilled himself in Chinese writing for five years. His interest was sparked by finding he could transfer his technique in drawing to writing.
''Chinese calligraphy gets me involved in a unique world. I prefer it to Western penmanship,'' he told Young Post.
Kam-san also found that such exercises promote mental and physical well-being.
A third-time winner, Kam-san said this was his farewell entry.
The open group winner was Daniel Lau Chak-kwong, 26, who operates a school uniform business.
Coming from a musical family, the piano-player is attracted by calligraphy's abstract quality.
''Among Chinese art, calligraphy can lift one to the highest realms. It is not very visual but it is unique in using strokes, lines and points to express emotions.'' Since taking up calligraphy 10 years ago, Daniel has trained with two masters and is concentrating on its artistic merits.
Ms Virginia S. K. Lo, Hongkong Bank's public relations manager, explained to Young Post about the bank's involvement: ''Our intention is to bridge the gap and use our corporate citizenship to encourage interest in this art form.'' She said participation had dropped from about 1,400 in 1989 to about 700 last year.
''Generally, the drop is experienced in the two younger groups. This may be due to growing social distractions.''