We continue to investigate what true happiness means to others ahead of the upcoming art exhibition hosted in collaboration with theDesk neighbourhood partners and local artists.
Youths remind us a world full of hope and idealism. While many fresh graduates are on the pursuit of earning fat pay cheques, Savannah College of Art Design (SCAD) Hong Kong fresh graduate Sharu Sikdar is using her identity and talent to find the root of the matter to life’s purpose.
What made you pursue a degree in the arts?
My father, who loves painting and drawing as well, influenced me at a young age to pick up art as a hobby. Coming from a local public school in Hong Kong, most of what I had learnt about art was mainly theory and appreciation. Hence, I did a lot of self-studying about art creation.
As I got older, art became a bigger part of my life. It was difficult to let it go. Many were pessimistic about my decision to pursue arts as a career, but I believed in myself. Luckily, I had my parents’ support in my decision to enrol in an arts degree at SCAD.
SCAD widened my horizon on what art can offer beyond two-dimensional aspects. School peaked my interest in installations and helped my career take off in terms of exhibiting my work in different spaces.
Being of Indian-Filipino descent, how has being a minority in Hong Kong affect your experiences?
My father is Indian, while my mother is Filipino. More than anything, being born and raised in Hong Kong, and learning Cantonese, makes me feel like a local. I don’t feel a significant separation just because of my race.
Nevertheless, I feel privileged to be exposed to three different cultures all in one place. It taught me to appreciate different cultures and see things from varying perspectives. Hong Kong does offer diversity; it’s all about how you approach the way you see things.
Nature is a common motif across a majority of your artworks. Why so?
I have to credit my parents for the way I was brought up to appreciate nature. My mother, who’s from the Philippines, brought me to visit her hometown occasionally since young. Her hometown is situated in a mountainous area.
The exposure to such greenery deeply connected me to mother nature’s beauty and offerings; it left a deep imprint on me even after I returned to Hong Kong and has influenced my perspective on taking life with stride amidst the stressful hustle in this city.
Be inspired: Pursuit of Happiness: Hong Kong artist Anthony Choy
Nature invoked my approach to art. I was also very intrigued by how nature decays and shows time. That’s why I love to use elements of nature, such as leafs and twigs, as a medium for my artworks.
A lot of my work comprises of collecting, assembling and deconstructing. These processes become the front and centre of the art piece. I hope to convey the symbolism of how we as individual being can make a change in any fragment of a situation.
Unlike the other older artists at the exhibition, you’re a young, up and coming artist. What are your hopes and fears as you embark on entering the working world?
Well, there’s bound to be uncertainties for any fresh graduates. Nonetheless, I’m quite optimistic as the arts scene here is really growing. Advisors have taught me about the importance of connecting with the right people because Hong Kong is a city of opportunities if you know where to find them.
However, Hong Kong approach art as a commercialised business. The current art scene seems to promote international artists rather than local. I hope to see that change to support and give exposure to local artists.
Being an artist can be a lonely affair. I would love to be involved in communities that encourage deep discussions and cultural exchanges with others in order to grow and learn. In the near future, I hope to pursue my masters and take up teaching after I’ve established my career.
I believe that if you teach people, they also teach you back.
You’ve participated Tree of Life’s charity outreach prior to the exhibition. Can you share more about your experience?
I was so thrilled when Eugene, the Gallery Director of Glenceylee Gallery, reached out to inform me that I was selected to exhibit my work to collaborate. Collaborating for this exhibition allowed me to experience a different side of Hong Kong that I was never much aware of.
I joined the dinner banquet which Tree of Life hosted for the less fortunate. It was such a heartwarming and welcoming affair. It tickled me that many of these beneficiaries were initially so shy around me as I was not Chinese. Once they found out I spoke Cantonese, they were so surprised and immediately warmed up to me.
Be inspired: Pursuit of Happiness: Hong Kong artist Adwin Yau
These people are such fighters amidst their struggles. They were honest and open about why they were in the position they were, and also shared their hopes and dreams.
I also helped clothes give-away donation drive. At the event, we conducted knitting workshops single mothers so that can acquire new creative skillsets as a mean to earn income.
What was your biggest takeaway from interacting with these people?
Hong Kongers often go about their routine life, while not being sensitive to the needs of people around them. Joining Tree of Life’s weekly dinner banquet and donation drive made me ascertain that it was important to raise awareness about the less fortunate people amongst us and the ways we can help them.
Overall, it was such a fulfilling experience spreading happiness and seeing an authentic local side of Hong Kong.
It’s amazing how much a small act of kindness can send a wave of hope and make a difference to other people’s life. I really hope more people get involved in these types of initiatives.
Tell us more about the motivation behind your commissioned work for this coming exhibition.
After attending these outreach events, it exposed me to a diverse range of people with different life stories. I wanted to use my leafs as a representation of human beings. I particularly selected leafs with holes or those that have been torn apart. My main installation involved patching up these leafs with a read thread.
The red thread symbolises a bond that provides healing and understanding for different people and with different flaws. The stitches convey that an individual is allowed to be fragile, but we can be strong when we all come together.
What is happiness to you?
Happiness means being able to do what I love to do and taking things step by step. I’ve been very inspired by the collaboration with Tree of Life.
The experience taught me that happiness lies with gratitude, even for the smallest things in life. The beneficiaries I’ve met all just want to be heard and understood. Just like us, they want to be accepted and be give opportunities.
Meet our neighbours: The ukulele strummin’, cocktail shakin’, food art makin’ hotel Front Desk Duty Manager
What: The Pursuit of Happiness Art Exhibition
Where: theDesk, G/F Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun
When: Until 15th February 2018 | Monday – Friday, 9 am – 6 pm
Transport: HKU Station, Island Line, Exit B2
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