Art brings a new dimension

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2007, 12:00am

Dinosaurs, ancient Egyptian mummies, Qing dynasty warriors, a giant robot and cartoon characters - all these are part of a colourful display of art titled Diverse Expressions, presented by Yew Chung International Schools.

The more than 200 artworks were the collective effort of about 2,000 students and teachers. The youngest participant was two years old.

Under the guidance of Emily Eldridge and Gabriel Ostley, two artists-in-residence who work as full-time artists in the schools, Yew Chung students tapped their creativity to fill the exhibition space. They tried to put what they had learned from textbooks into practice.

'Kindergarten-goers, for example, are always reading about dinosaurs, and we suggested they make a T-Rex,' said Ms Eldridge, an illustrator.

'We helped them make a wooden framework for the skeleton, and they did the rest. They stuck newspapers on the frame and painted it a T-Rex colour.'

Year Four students who had been studying about pharaohs and pyramids in history class chose ancient Egypt as their theme.

They did their research in the library and looked up books for ideas about ancient Egyptian gods and mummies.

Another group of students, inspired by the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code, created a small-scale version of Leonardo da Vinci's famous mural, The Last Supper.

'When you give students the freedom to be creative, they can come up with unique visions that can surprise you,' Mr Ostley said.

The students had a lot of ideas and there were a few harmless disputes.

'For instance, one student painted a cup on The Last Supper and the next day another student erased it!' Mr Ostley said. 'But they gained a lot from the process, like learning to compromise and working as a team.'

Art teacher Cheryl Lee believes Hong Kong schools should incorporate art into the curriculum, even though not all students will go on to become artists.

'Art helps you to learn, think and relax,' Ms Lee said. 'Unfortunately, most Hong Kong people miss this point.'

The art teacher said more than 50 per cent of Yew Chung's Year Nine students have chosen art as an elective course, proving that the artists-in-residence project has raised interest in art.

Year Nine student Herbert Chan found the art project helpful.

'When you work on a piece of art, you have to consider different approaches and perspectives. It opens up your mind and inspires you to think,' Herbert said.

Denise Yeung, another student, said art had sharpened her concentration powers.

'You become very focused. There's a great attention to detail when you make art. And focus is essential for studies,' Denise said.

The art project also led to thoughts about the environment. 'The students who made the Egyptian mummies searched their homes for reusable materials, [such as ] cardboard pieces and shoe boxes,' Ms Eldridge said.

The creation of a giant robot also involved recycling. More than 300 bottles were used to build the robot.

'When students and teachers saw us at work, they recycled all the water bottles they had and gave them to us,' Mr Ostley said.

Diverse Expressions will be open to the public from 11am to 6pm until Saturday at the art gallery of Yew Chung International School - Secondary Section.