SCHOOL RULES This is my first year studying abroad, in Melbourne [Australia]. I enjoy boarding-school life; I can get away from my parents and make friends with people from all over the world. I'm trying to catch up on some of the TV shows people watch over there. One thing though - every meal is just potatoes, and the greens are either just boiled or salads. What I wouldn't give for sweet and sour spare ribs or garlic-fried baby bak choi. In Hong Kong, I get my mum and dad to take me out for meals. I used to hate yum cha and now I miss it. FAMILY TIES My sister studies in England and I'm in Australia, so we can't really match our schedules to each others' holidays. Earlier, when we used to see each other all the time, we were always arguing. The good thing is now, when we get to see each other, we enjoy each other's company. My sister is really good at the piano and I play guitar, so sometimes we just mess around with music together. One of my favourite drawings started out as my sister's. She had a drawing assignment from school - the theme was 'good and evil'. She finished half of it then said she didn't want to continue. Her style was a bit science-fictional, like a dark world between reality and fantasy. I finished it for her. What I liked the most was seeing her style and having to imagine how she would continue. CREATIVE THINKING I've been drawing since I was six. When I was younger I didn't want to continue with art, but my mum insisted I keep going. She didn't want me to waste my talent. She keeps reminding me now that I should thank her [laughs]. When I was 10, I started taking classes after school at Simply Art [in Mong Kok]. At school [in Melbourne], we have art classes in the curriculum - basic drawing and sketching, and multimedia art. I like the traditional media better. Somehow, I don't feel like I can express myself truly by using computers. Drawing by hand is best. I feel that art is a much more regarded part of life in Australia. [The country] is also much more free-thinking. For example, during drawing class one day, our teacher crumpled up a piece of paper and put it on the table. He said, 'Draw what you can see,' and students came up with all kinds of different shapes and things. I think the emphasis on art should be stronger in Hong Kong. There are different levels to art. Some pictures or images don't really have deep meaning. And I want to try for something more - a connection. Not only to express myself through the painting but to give it meaning that you won't understand without really thinking about. I'm afraid if I stop practising, I won't be able to catch up with the rest of the world. My dad got me a book called 101 Pieces of Art, which includes the work of many artists. There's one called The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, which I like very much, for the mood and tones, and also the shapes that I don't really understand, but are cool anyway. ON WINNING Before the [United Nations Environment Programme's] International Children's Painting Competition, I had entered other contests, but I used to be a bit of a worry-wart - thinking about what would happen if I didn't win, what that would mean. Through those experiences, I slowly learned that worrying doesn't change the results and that I should focus on other things. I made the painting right before I had to leave for Melbourne [in January]. I had so many other things on my mind. So I sent it off and went away to school and didn't think about it till I came home for the first-term break, which is when I found out I had won. I was so happy I started screaming. It was so wonderful. I went to Wellington, New Zealand, to receive the prize, which was great, because I got to see the country. BEHIND THE ART My school in Hong Kong [St Stephen's Girls' College] taught us ways to save the planet. I used the ideas in my painting. You see the arms reaching out to remove these prison bars [which represent pollution] and the Earth in the centre. Each arm represents a different nationality and a different part of saving the environment: one shows us using sun, water and wind power instead of petrol and fossil fuels; one shows people picking up garbage; one is about using public transport instead of cars; one shows recycling and reusing and not using plastic bags; and there is one for planting trees. If we saved the Earth, it would look like that: with flowers and trees filling the land and dolphins jumping out of the water. At home, my entire family is very conscious about recycling and not wasting. We have separate bins for plastic and aluminium cans. And, of course, lights off when not in use is really important.