Ai Weiwei

Finding a voice in art

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am


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In response to the arrest of renowned Beijing artist and activist Ai Weiwei last month, graffiti of the artist's face have been popping up around Hong Kong.

The identity of the street artists remains unknown, but a visual art teacher at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity has turned their idea into a class assignment.

'The school has always encouraged students to think independently,' said the teacher, Fok Sui-tong. 'I want students to take note of what happens in the world. I believe that artists should care about [current events].'

Fok gathered news stories, including reports about Ai, and asked each of her students to produce stencil graffiti on a topic.

The students' creations were then painted on the school's walls.

Jenny Ma Chun-yee, 18, has made colourful graffiti using the face of the detained artist. She was inspired by the mysterious graffiti seen around the city. 'Ai Weiwei is a famous international artist who has tried to use his work to express social problems, like his exhibition regarding the child victims of the Sichuan earthquake. I was touched by his work,' the teenager said.

'I used bright colours because I think he is a kind and peaceful person who doesn't use force to fight against the government. And I think we should all speak up on social issues just like him.'

Another student, Mandy Siu Man-yee, has chosen the news about Osama bin Laden's death. Her work shows the faces of bin Laden and US President Barack Obama.

'I don't think Americans can say they respect human rights when their president had bin Laden killed without making it clear whether he was resisting arrest,' she said.

Fok said: 'I think it's good to let students express their views through social issues.

'I hope next time when they read about other pieces of news, they will be able to think on their own.'