With the coming handover fuelling discussion here and abroad, two artists are turning to a simple medium to capture the ideas of those most affected - in Hong Kong, Britain and China - by using postcards. As part of the Youth Arts Festival in November, Jo Nichols and Deborah McAulay have initiated a project called One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety-Seven Postcards. They have printed 20,000 postcards - blank on one side, instructions on the other - encouraging people to put their thoughts and ideas down on one half. The other half is to be filled in by a friend or relative in Britain or China, who will add their response to the historic handover. 'So many people ask how you feel about the handover when you're abroad,' says Ms McAulay. 'And so we wanted people to really think and use their creativity and express their thoughts and ideas and put them into images or words. It can be a collage, a poem, an essay or a painting - anything.' The postcards that are returned will be on display at Gallery 7, and the women hope to receive back at least 1,997 by October. 'The idea is to encourage people to express their ideas about '97,' says Ms McAulay. 'What's nice about a postcard is that it's very small. It's not a big, blank piece of paper - that can be intimidating and difficult to confront. A postcard is easy - it's just a message, a thought; it's small and simple, and not intimidating at all.' Ms Nichols says they want to attract people of all ages and from all walks of life. 'We are not just targeting youth,' she says. 'I think the exhibition will be more interesting with a broad spectrum of people. And to us, everyone's an artist.' After the Hong Kong festival, the exhibition will make its rounds at the Edinburgh Festival in August 1997 and at a yet-to-be-announced venue in China. 'We want to create a dialogue between these three countries,' says Ms Nichols, but stresses that the project is not limited to them. 'There may be people who don't know anything about this situation and that's okay if you want to send it to them too, anywhere in the world. In fact, we may get an even more interesting response.' So far, the postcards have been distributed to the Fringe Club, the Arts Centre, Lamma's Shue T'ing Gallery and Gallery 7, and from September will also be available at colleges and universities. The idea of provoking creative thoughts and forcing Hong Kong people to reflect on the situation is exciting to both women. 'As artists, we want to encourage other people to be creative too. In Hong Kong, people have little time to sit and think. With a postcard, you have to be creative and take time to compile the thoughts in your head,' says Ms Nichols. After the exhibition, selected postcards will be compiled for a catalogue, a historic document measuring the mood of people everywhere in the last year of British rule. Proceeds will be donated to the Youth Arts Festival. 'We want to make sure the money goes back to the people here, so the money will go to benefit the youth of Hong Kong, post-1997,' says Ms Nichols. The duo have yet to fill in their postcards. Ms McAulay says she plans to send her postcard to a friend in England, but Ms Nichols is undecided. And what will they put on them? Ms Nichols smiles slyly and says: 'Well, come to the exhibition and you'll find out.' For more information contact Deborah McAulay at 2488-0077 or Jo Nichols at 2982-0862.