As the year comes to a close and we prepare for the festivities, ask yourself this: what more can I give? This December, theDesk joins with neighbourhood partners and local artists to explore and contemplate the definition of the pursuit of happiness through art and charity.
In the first of a new series of interviews with local artists and collaborators, we meet with Anthony Choy, a full-time administrative supervisor and an avid sketch artist who finds joy through sketching around the streets of Hong Kong.
How did your interest in art start?
Back in secondary school, I was very engrossed in visual books and often browsed the internet for artwork, and videos on how artists conceptualise their work.
While I pursued a degree in science and a master in business, and now work in the property development industry, I still continued to explore my interest in arts.
With the boom in social media, I was lucky to find communities with a similar interest in sketching. It sparked my determination to invest more time practising art, particularly watercolours.
How has being part of the arts community benefited you?
In 2014, I joined SKETCH Hong Kong; they organised many outings that scoured heritage sites and other areas of interests in Hong Kong. The group allowed me to get acquainted with an eclectic mix of hobbyists and professionals.
Meeting these people expanded my horizon on the techniques applied to different mediums of art. Furthermore, I met my watercolour master through the group.
The sketching trips taught me that being in the presence of the subject I’m drawing. It added a layer of direction and a deeper connection with my art.
Drawing out on the streets also broke me out of my shell. I used to be very shy. Meeting artists and people who are interested in my art opened me up to sharing more.
What influenced your preference for local landscapes and watercolour?
Being able to soak in the sites of authentic Hong Kong appeals to me greatly. These places have so much to offer in terms of storytelling. Every street, and the natural scenery is like a visual feast.
I once hiked Sharp Peak mountain. Though the journey was ‘treacherous’, as it was most commonly known for, I had a rare 360 degrees scenic view to sketch. Hong Kong is such a fascinating city. I’ve travelled to Japan and many other countries, but Hong Kong offers another level of beauty that is very much underappreciated.
A significant memory I had was when I visited Sam Ka Tsuen fishing village in Lei Yue Mun to do some live sketching. The villagers were all very welcoming when I asked for permission to occupy their space, which was surprising as they are known to shoo away photographers.
While I painted, they openly shared the history, culture and evolution of the village. Those conversations were so rewarding. It aided me to add more context to the drawing, including special details which I would’ve missed with my naked eyes.
The reason why I love watercolour is that you can never fully determine how the visual effect when the ink seeps into the paper. The fusion of colours is very romantic as the fluidity of the liquid creates such naturalistic effect.
You’ve recently taken part in one of Tree of Life’s outreach activities. What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
Eugene, the Director of Gleneyclee Gallery and co-organiser of the exhibition, approached me to be part of this project, and invited me along to one of Tree of Life’s charity outreach programmes. I took part in their clothing give-away drive. It was my first time doing a charity initiative where I had direct contact with the beneficiaries.
In Hong Kong, I feel there’s a lack of genuine human connection. Although our city is compact, we’re actually distant emotionally as most people today are only connected to their phones.
My time with Tree of Life really reminded me the importance of being physically present, and showering love to people. Making the effort to be in the presence of others really draws a relationship closer.
What is your definition of the pursuit of happiness?
Stepping out into the working world really changed my views drastically. When I was younger, I was so innocent and life was simpler then. Happiness seems harder to attain with age.
With the accumulation of harsh realities you’ve experienced, you tend to become jaded. I’m so lucky to have a platform I can turn to for fuel and happiness.
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Art means a lot to me. By being actively involved in these various art societies and initiatives, I hope to spread my passion for the arts to other local people.
Although the arts scene in Hong Kong is a haven for investors, there is still so much more work to do by the government and even private entities to support the local arts scene, and nurture an appreciation for the arts among the locals.
Tell us more about the motivation behind your commissioned work for this coming exhibition.
Volunteering has made me realise that I have more to contribute back to the society. I feel more driven to give back beyond monetary means. I hope to donate my time and artistic talents to spreading joy and happiness.
With art, its visual appeal alone does not truly make it a masterpiece. It’s how an artwork makes a viewer feel. For me, I love drawing vibrant blossoming flowers because their beauty evokes love and happiness.
The artworks that I’m exhibiting are watercolour paintings of roses. Roses convey not only romance but also friendships and emotions developing between two humans. Flowers, in general, evoke a sense of euphoria.
The less fortunate people we are trying to help through this initiative carry heavy emotional burdens and suffered difficult life experiences. I want to convey a direct message of the Chinese saying: ‘brimming joy like blossoming flowers’ (心花怒放).
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Come join us to celebrate art, meet the artists and sponsors, and support a wonderful charity event to raise funds for the less fortunate. The event is a joint collaboration by theDesk, Geneyclee Gallery, Tree of Life and Hotel Jen Hong Kong.
What: The Pursuit of Happiness Art Exhibition Opening Ceremony
Where: theDesk, G/F Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun
When: Friday 15th December 2017, 7 pm to 9 pm.
Transport: HKU Station, Island Line, Exit B2
Click here to RSVP for the event.
The free exhibition is open to public for free until 15th February 2018.