Creative farewell to secondary school

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 12:00am

Do you realise that secondary school life actually plays a big part in your teens?

Most people spend from five to seven years in this education system before taking on university studies or joining the work force.

To express their feelings about this crucial period in their lives, seven students who are about to say farewell to secondary school have put together an exhibition, Schooling Age, at Yau Ma Tei's Shanghai Street Artspace.

Curator Calvin Lam Hok-gee, 19, says the exhibition sums up their lives in secondary school.

'I thought I would feel pretty sad to to leave the school. However, as A-level exams approached, the pressure became overwhelming and I started to have resentful emotions towards school life,' laments the Diocesan Boys' School student, who feels schools are too exam oriented.

Through a series of portraits of three of his classmates, Calvin expresses his view about direct subsidy schools.

He also presents his perspective on students' identities through an installation consisting of prison-like school uniforms.

'I don't really agree with the idea behind direct subsidy schools. They hope to get better-quality students through this new system, but I think a school's standard depends on its teaching qualities and how they help their students develop their talents,' he says.

Like Calvin, Roland Ip Ho-lun, 18, from La Salle College, also expresses discontent with his school through art, with an installation of three white, short-sleeve shirts.

While the Hong Kong education system has been called uninspired and too exam oriented, and local students are criticised as not being creative enough, these young artists are not shy of displaying their unusual ideas through art.

Young artist Hexane Ha Yat-sing, from New Territories Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School, creates a colour painting of a squad of soldiers armed with stationary instead of weapons, symbolising an educational battlefield.

Another of his works reveals his feelings about the pressure on local students and the intense competition inside schools.

'I've learned a lot of things during my secondary school life that have made me more mature.

'I feel a bit sad that everyone will go their own ways after the A-level exams,' says the 18-year-old.

Among the 11 artworks in the exhibition is an installation by 18-year-old Gloria Sham Man-kei, from Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School, which resembles the popular Chinese game mahjong, but with chemical symbols instead of Chinese characters.

'I found it hard to say goodbye to my secondary school. The teachers were kind and allowed me to make mistakes. They also helped me develop my self-image,' she says.

While the exhibition provides a good platform for young artists to show their works to a wide cross-section of people, they also invited their principals and teachers to attend.

'I'm really excited to find out how they react after seeing our works, and what their feelings about them are,' says Gloria.

Schooling Age runs until February 26, from 10.30am to 7.30pm (Monday to Sunday, closed on Wednesdays and public holidays) Shanghai Street Artspace, G/F, 404 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei (Exit A1, Yau Ma Tei MTR station)