INFO · Search
· Chinese version · Subscribe

The Young Reporter

Culture & Leisure

Ancient Art in a Modern City

Handmade ukuleles bring happy sounds to Hong Kong by Tracy Zhang Along the rugged track on Cheung Chau Island, next to the snack and souvenirs stores, ukuleles are among the attractions. Originally from Hawaii, this instrument has become popular among Hong Kong youth in recent years, because it has been featured in romantic movies and soap operas. Located on one of the busiest streets in Cheung Chau island, Benny Cheng's rock music school is decorated with colorful ukuleles. "People who come to Cheung Chau care more about the fish balls than the handmade ukuleles. Few would stop by and appreciate them," said Mr Cheng, who founded G.V.S Rock School. He thinks Hong Kong people are often too busy to slow down and pay attention to handmade products. "But the creative and colorful ukuleles hanging here more or less attract some attention," he added. The art of handcrafted ukeleles 1879 in Portugal. Hand made instruments were  gradually replaced by factory-made products, which are often perfectly polished. "I can always buy a perfect ukulele in Hong Kong, but what I can't do is to make it with my hands and enjoy the process," said Evan Binkley, the founder of the brand Fish Ukulele. Mr. Binkley fills his house with unique ukuleles made from moon cake tins, papayas, bamboo and so on. "The way I make ukuleles is different from other people. I have my own style and I want something different," said Mr Binkley. "Different materials create different tones and sounds, which make them unique," he said, while playing one made from a papaya that he picked up from the garbage. "The problem is that people cannot make money doing that. A handmade ukulele costs much more money and time than one produced in a factory," he said. A group of social …

People

Connecting with Tattoos

"The ink may be skin deep, but the accent is deeper." By Connie Fong and Cecilia Wong Jayers Ko is not your typical tattoo artist. "The ink may be skin-deep, but the accent is bone-deep." she said. For her, tattoos are more than just decorations. It is an art of self-expression.She believes the message in a tattoo goes beyond space and time constraints to connect with people. Ms Ko's first tattoo was a little blue star on her left wrist. "What it is, graphically, doesn't matter; but it's the placement that matters a lot. It is somewhere obvious to me," she said. It reminds her to move on from hard times. "I needed something eternal to calm me down," she said. The idea of getting a tattoo popped into her mind when she was 19. She was going through a tough time. She had to take up the responsibility of taking care of her brother. Later, she was ditched by her boyfriend whom she was madly in love with at that time. She went into a random tattoo shop in Thailand, picked a random picture and a random tattoo artist to edge the blue star on to her skin. That marked marking her start to a new life. "My mum asked me if I was a prostitute when she saw the tattoo," Ms Ko said. Her parents were against her becoming a tattoo artist. But after getting her first tattoo, she studied psychology and searched for information about tattoos online. She tried but failed to get an apprenticeship. With no background in art, Ms Ko started working on her portfolio by doing paintings on paper. She then sent an email to a traditional tattooist requesting an apprenticeship. "I guess it's my passion that touched him," she said. "Apprenticeship is a …

Culture & Leisure

Art in the City

A set of sculptures recently sparked calls of panic. Does Hong Kong appreciate public art? By Emily Cheung When the public art installation "Event Horizon Hong Kong" , first went on display on a rooftop in Central in November, 2015, people mistook the sculpture of a life-sized naked man as a suicide suspect and called the police. "I spotted it a long time ago. But to be honest, I don't know why it has to be there," said Ms Chu Tze-yan, who works nearby. The controversial art project featured 31 fiberglass sculptures by artist, Antony Gormley. The figures stand on streets or rooftops across the city. "The idea was to underline the relationship between human and space," says Mr Gormley. "Public art allows free thinking and the community may not feel comfortable with sculptures like that at first," said Antony J. Chan, the British Council's Head of Art and Creative Industries, who organized  "Event Horizon Hong Kong" . Mr Chan believes that the police calls that resulted from his artwork show a lack of understanding of public art. But Hong Kong is no stranger to public art .  In early 1999, the  government launched  a Public Art Scheme to boost creativity and to bring artistic elements to the public. Since then, more than 20 sets of public art pieces have been on display. What is regarded by some as sophisticated public art, such as Mr Gormley's naked men, is seldom appreciated. Instead, many seem to think that art should be decorative rather than artistic expression. "I don't see the need to  understand those artwork thoroughly. It is fine a long as they  make the place more beautiful and visually attractive ," said Travis Mackenzie, a tourist from Washington. He and many tourists find pleasure in seeing the artwork, though some do …

Health & Environment

Stretched to the limits

A shortage of nurses at public hospitals adds tension to patient care By Richelia Yeung & Tiffany Lui Public hospitals in Hong Kong serve 90 percent of all the patients in the territory, yet employs only 40 percent of doctors according to a report published by the Food and Health Bureau in 2015. Medical staff were pushed to their limits during a recent outbreak of influenza. Miss X, a registered nurse working in the orthopedics department of a public hospital, says medical staff feel like they are ‘fighting a war with no weapons '. "As nurses, we want to provide a good care for the patients," she says, "but the hospital is not giving us enough support, especially when it comes to manpower." The nurse says there are only six nurses per shift taking care of more than 50 patients. Sometimes it is down to four or five nurses if someone falls ill. "We are lucky if the patients are all in stable conditions, otherwise we would be under a lot of psychological pressure if anything happens all of a sudden," she said. The Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff addressed an open letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in March. They said  medical staff is overworked. The nurse-to-patient ratio, they said, was 1:12, far exceeding the international standard of 1:6. "No matter which department it is, there are more patients during the influenza season," says the nurse. "When one department is in need, others departments need to give a helping hand. There is a ripple effect." She says Lunar New Year is the only time when they get some relief because it is taboo for Chinese people to go to hospital during the holiday. "Experienced staff quit their jobs in public hospitals and  work at private hospitals because they …

People

Bobsy Gaia: 25 years of Ecopreneurship in Hong Kong

The story of an entrepreneur and his eco-friendly businesses By Celia Lai and Crystal Tai Wearing a man bun and a long grey beard, Bobsy Gaia almost has the look of a Taoist priest from Chinese mythology. The "ecopreneur" was born in Lebanon and has been pioneering socially responsible business in Hong Kong since 1992. He is the co-founder of several vegetarian restaurants, including "MANA! Fast Slow Food". Just like its owner, "MANA! Fast Slow Food" is vibrant yet relaxing. The furniture is made of recycled materials and the menu is on a chalk board. The restaurant regularly promotes eco friendly campaigns. For example, "World Water Day" was written in delightful colours on March 22 on the board to remind people to conserve water. Mindful of the environment, Bobsy is on a mission to educate consumers to "eat like it matters". His restaurant serves organic produce. Bobsy became an "ecopreneur" when he started to promote social responsibility in business in 1989. He was a fashion designer at the time, but came up with the idea in a moment of despair. "I was financially broke at that time in Bangkok. At the same time, many profound changes were happening in the world such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War," said Bobsy, "there were also Nelson Mandela, mass protests over the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and women fighting for equality. These movements showed the awakening of human power. It was speaking to me. I suddenly realized there was something bigger than me going on," he said. The awakening, Bobsy thought, was a game change in man's perception of the world. That is similar to the realisation that the Earth is round and not flat. "The people in this humanitarian movement are amazingly creative …

People

An Aussie turned Hong Konger

by Paulus Choy, James Ho   Gregory Charles Rivers considers himself every bit a Hong Konger. " I care about the city, I love the Canto songs, and the language," he said. Mr. Rivers  is Australian. He moved to Hong Kong nearly 20 years ago, and has since acted in a number of Hong Kong drama productions and TV shows. He shot to fame again recently with his  performance in the 100Most Magazine award ceremony. Rock and heavy metal music was popular when he was in college, but Mr. Rivers was not fond of those. Several of his Hong Kong friends introduced him to Cantopop and that was exactly what he liked. His stage name, Ho Kwok-wing, came from the famous deceased Cantopop singer Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing. His love of Cantonese music drove him to learn the language. He got his hands on a cassette tape when he was in university, but the program only taught six of the nine intonations of Cantonese. He eventually came to Hong Kong in 1987 with a friend. Later on he auditioned for a role at TVB, and has never looked back. "I did not have confidence that I could do what TVB wanted, I think I got in because TVB didn't have another choice," he said. Mr. Rivers feels that the Hong Kong entertainment scene has done little to welcome foreign actors. "Script writers seem to forget that foreign actors could add flavor to a story, and I don't understand why,." he said. He acted in a number of TV shows, and also sang on the side. But his big break came when 100Most invited him to rap on stage. He was crowned the "real Hong Konger", and he feels that a true Hong Konger needs to really care about his home town …

Culture & Leisure

Kung Fu in 3D

  Motion capture technology helps to preserve traditional martial arts by Susan Gao & Tracy Zhang He's dressed in a skintight black bodysuit dotted with 99 position markers.  A martial arts master demonstrates his Kung Fu styles in a 3D motion-capture studio, equipped with cameras and sensors. Certain Hollywood Sci Fi films, such as Avatar, are shot in a similar way. But here, the purpose is to document hundreds of different martial art styles in Hong Kong. The clips will be used to compile a new "Kung Fu Bible" called "The Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive". High technology such as 3D modeling, is used nowadays to revive traditional martial arts.Motion capture allows swift movements to be recorded in an accurate, lively and precise way. " 3D technology brings us closer to reality," said Hing Chao, Chief Executive of the International Joshua Association who launched the archive in 2013. He said 3D imaging approximates live instruction to a greater degree, in comparison with manuals, photographs or videos as references for learning complicated martial arts. "The technology will be used at exhibitions, installations, mobile apps and other digital learning applications, in order to preserve the art of Kung Fu as well as promote it to the public public," according to Chao. The novelty of motion capture is fascinating to some traditional martial arts master. "In the old days, we followed the movements demonstrated by our instructors. It depends on whether the instructor can explain well," said Tsang Ho-pan, a veteran master of Wing Tsun, a form of concept-driven martial art rooted in Southeast of China and Hong Kong. The 36-year-old Kung Fu master is now a high rank instructor of the International Wing Tsun Association. "With the help of 3D technology, we can check if the movements are similar to those …

Culture & Leisure

Busking in a concrete jungle

  The Street Music Series introduces diversity to the local music industry by Emily Cheung & Morris Chan   Kung Chi-shing is a  musician and an activist. He has been trying to enrich the musical scene by organising the Street Music Series. It is a platform for young musicians and singer-songwriters to introduce themselves to the community. Mr. Kung started working  with the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 2009 to promote music diversity. Last year, the Street Music Series featured local street musician in 28 concerts. Hong Kong's music scene, Mr. Kung believes, is dominated by commercial productions. "A healthy society should be very diverse. When different aspects of Hong Kong  embrace diversity, local art does not reflect that. Why can't we do more to encourage diversity in art?" Mr. Kung said. He believed music should connect with the audience through emotions and the spiritual needs of a community at a given time. The artistic value of music , Mr Kung thinks, is undermined in commercially produced music. One of the performers Bao Kwun-ying said street music allows him to have a more freedom in his performance than in a traditional concert, partly because unlike commercial music, street music does not need to cater for the audience's needs. "A lots of factors, like marketing, are key to a concert's success, and those have restricted creativity in music," Bao said.   Shirley Cho, a street music enthusiast, agreed that Hong Kong should have more support for non-mainstream music because they are very unique. " They can touch your soul with lyrics and melody that truly reflect reality," Cho said.   The Street Music Series is not only praised by the audience, but also the performers. It provides everything they need: the equipment and a proper platform for their music. That makes …

Culture & Leisure

Cultural Travelling: Tours that Show a Different Facet

  by Cecilia Wong Cultural travelling is a vogue for travel agencies to bespeak their cultural exploring tours, it goes beyond merely visiting a place, but allows experience as a member of a culture and undergoes transformations of lives. Cultural travelling is to go local and dig into authentic, genuine stories in a country, said Chan Shing-kwan, one of the co-founders of Eastern Vision and Glo Travel which both organising international travel programmes in a unique way. Chan said that they attempt to modify traditional travel tours, which tend to load customers to various tourist spots for merely shopping and eating, by providing comprehensive, intellectual but fun experiences. Tours organised by Eastern Vision and Glo Travel try to break stereotypes and "bridge" different people, he said. "Reading a lot about North Koreans, but had never talked to them, I lost track," said Niklas Pape, a German exchange student at The University of Hong Kong. He joined an Eastern Vision's tour to North Korea last year and agreed that through interacting with locals during the visit, participants gained a "different perception" towards North Koreans.  "Only after talking to them, I know they are very same as human beings," he said.   Unlike a semester exchange which is long enough for complete immersion, the tours are limited by short travelling periods. Thus, he described the tours as just a "tool" for people to gain basic information of a country and open people's doors to cultural exchange in the future, as well as to build habits of delving into or at least research a country's background before visiting. Cultural experience is about physical engagement and, of equally important, idea exchange. "Only by going local, talking to local communities, and involving in an environment can people understand the conditions -- political, social and economic …

Politics

Bid Farewell to the Last Urban Walled Village

  by Nicki Wong & Melissa Ko The remaining tenants of Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen packed their belongings and cleared their houses  in the largely abandonned and messy village. Most of the other residents had moved out already They were ready to hand over their homes to the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen in Wong Tai Sin district has a history of more than 650 years. It is known as "the last walled village in the city". The URA calls it a chapter in Hong Kong's " lost history".   A conservation project began in 2007 to preserve three of the relics: Tin Hau Temple, the village gatehouse and an embedded stone tablet. The target is to complete the works in 2018-19. "I think the whole village should have been preserved," said Mr Wing, who lives near Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen. Although many residents and neighbours may share his view, conservation experts find little reason to keep the whole village. "Since the development of Morse Park, living conditions in Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen has changed," said Wu Chi-wai, Legislative Council member for Kowloon East, and District Council member for Wong Tai Sin. Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen, which means "overflowing prosperity" was fortified against pirates and cannons in the 18th century. Ten years ago, it was full of shops and street food stalls, or Dai Pai Dong. "Had we started preserving the village then, it would have been worthwhile," he continued, "but now, I don't see any point in keeping it. Only eight blocks are left and that's not enough to represent the culture of the village," Mr. Wu said. Most of the old houses in Nga Tsin Wai have been torn down and there are fewer and fewer villagers over the years. All that's left are rubble and …