'In the past I had always seen Tuen Mun as a boring place. But now I find it very interesting,' says 12-year-old Ivy Leung Tsz-ying. Ivy is among the 27 participants from two Tuen Mun secondary schools who have collaborated with two artists to capture the fading heritage of their community. The project is a collaboration between Through Our Eyes (TOE), a photography programme created by The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation for high school students, and the Hong Kong International Artists' Workshop organised by the Artists in Residence (AiR) Association. Earlier this month the students, Michelle Brand, an award-winning eco designer-maker from Manchester, and local photographer Ki Wong, who teaches the TOE programme, visited three villages in Tuen Mun that have not yet been redeveloped. 'The idea is not to teach them to preserve all old things but to open their eyes so that they can think seriously about what they really want to preserve in their community,' says Wong. The result is a collection of time capsules - used plastic bottles redesigned by Brand as frames - that contain the students' photographs, as well as objects, such as small rocks, leaves and twigs, collected in the villages and that the students consider significant to their identity, their past or the community. 'This [the plastic] will last for 450 years, but these villages probably won't. It [the artwork] is about capturing what they [the students] saw there and what they wanted to save,' says Brand, who is best known for her use of waste plastic in her designs. The students say that although they have been studying or living in Tuen Mun, they never knew these villages - representative of the past and a traditional life style - existed. 'Visiting these villages is like entering a different world. People there don't lock their doors, they trust their neighbours and have a close relationship with each other,' says Katherine Chau Sau-kuen, a 15-year-old student from Ho Ngai College. Her classmate Alice Lok Ka-yan, 14, was fascinated by the sight of clothes hanging in the vast open area in front of village houses. 'I took pictures of a clothes peg because we rarely use it now. Today most people live in buildings and they use a clothes dryer,' says Alice. Pets there, which have the space and freedom to roam around, also seem to be happier, according to the students. 'The cats, similar to the ones in my grandma's village on the mainland, can sleep anywhere in the village and come back to the house for food when they are hungry. My grandma always says she would like to live like the cats and so would I,' says Crystal Yeung Yui-yi, 12. Capturing and saving our community's heritage via photography, or art in general, teaches the students an important lesson. 'Photography is not just about taking a beautiful picture. It's about conveying different messages via images,' says Sophie Tsang Wai-shan, 16, from Christian Alliance S.C. Chan Memorial College. She took pictures of the colourful mailboxes in front of each village house during the field trip. Brand says it's time for Hong Kong people to protect their cultural heritage for the next generation. 'I'm from Manchester and we have regenerated our city. Our government got rid of the markets and stall holders . . . but now they want to make the city more interesting, they are bringing the market back,' says Brand. 'The west is not always the best and Hong Kong should say, we've got an identity. It's nice to see a Hong Kong style.'