New Year revellers in for a treat from Mr Sandman

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am

When Li Jianhang first saw sand painting on a video clip, he started experimenting by playing with sand on his coffee table.

Three years on, he has made a name for himself on the mainland, with more than 100 performances in the past year.

Li will treat Hongkongers to his first show outside the mainland tomorrow on the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Lunar New Year Parade float.

Sand painting emerged as an art form about five years ago. It involves using your hands to draw a series of pictures on top of a light box and projecting them onto a screen.

'When I first saw the video clip I watched it 10 times,' Li, 30, said.

The art teacher was fascinated, but as the video did not explain what happens behind the scenes he had to figure it out for himself.

'In the beginning I used very rough sand to paint on a coffee table, with a lamp under the glass,' Li said. He finally bought a glass sandbox to use as his palette.

Through trial and error he figured out that fine sand was much better and got a friend to collect sand from Inner Mongolia.

The sand is collected while it is blowing in the wind to ensure it is light and fine. Li prepares about 1kg for each performance.

He said sand painting was more engaging than Chinese oil painting because it was accompanied by music. He loved the texture of sand and there was no limit to what he could draw.

Sand painting was fluid and is responsive to the slightest touch. Artists could use different parts of their hands to make an impression. For example, one could use the side of a fist to make the body of a jellyfish and fingernails to draw the tentacles.

Li doesn't bother taking photos of his impressive creations, preferring to just leave them for a day or two so he can admire them and then draw over them.

The Jockey Club's float will be the second in the parade and features a large drum with Li's creations projected on both sides of it.

The biggest challenge would be painting on a moving vehicle, he said. 'The float will be moving but I will have to keep my hands still,' he said. But he said he was confident his first outdoor performance would go off without a hitch. It would include a series of images depicting Victoria Harbour, equestrian events and a Lunar New Year message.

The parade, organised by the Tourism Board, starts at 8pm at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. It will pass along Haiphong and Nathan roads before ending at the New World Centre.

Meanwhile, the Observatory issued a cold weather warning at 4.20pm yesterday.

It is expected to be wet and cold throughout the Lunar New Year break as Hong Kong comes under the influence of a cold northeast monsoon affecting southern China.

Temperatures today will range between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius in urban areas and a couple of degrees cooler in the New Territories.

The mercury will rise a little tomorrow, ranging from 14 to 18 degrees, but drop again next week, with the minimum temperature falling to 11 degrees on Thursday and Friday.