Hong Kong Arts Month is held in March every year, which attracting numerous exhibitions and artists. Gathering top artists from all around the world, the first ever international open-air sculpture exhibition in Hong Kong, is hosted by the Hong Kong Arts Center in Harbour Arts Sculpture Park. From February 22nd to April 11th, 21 world-class sculptures by 19 well-known contemporary artists are displayed in Tamar Park.
Unlike exhibits sitting in museums, a number of sculptures in the park are not bounded by walls, fences or any barricades. Visitors can appreciate, observe or even touch the artworks. This gives them a full experience even in the smallest details, like carve traces by the artists. The sculptures are distributed on the lawn, blending in perfectly with Tamar Park and Victoria Harbour.
Aside from signage next to the exhibits, the public can also learn more about the sculptures with the mobile app “藝遊維港Harbour Arts Sculpture Park”. Multilingual audio guides in Cantonese, Mandarin and English are available in the app.
Among all the artworks, the most remarkable one is Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin: big”. Yayoi is an avant-garde Japanese artist, best known for her artworks based on dots. This big pumpkin, which has long been located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, has become a local landmark.
Miss Chao, taking pictures in front of the pumpkin sculpture with a small pumpkin model in her hand, said: “I bought this small pumpkin model in Naoshima. I did not expect I’d be able to see the pumpkin sculpture again in Central. Yayoi’s pumpkin looks peaceful and lonely sitting near the Victoria Harbour alone. It recalls my memories traveling in the Seto Inland Sea.”
Over a quarter of the participating artists are from Hong Kong. Local artists such as Matthew Tsang Man Fu, Kacey Wong, and Morgan Wong also produced distinctive local sculptures with their own design styles, to show the artistic power of Hong Kong.
Most of the artworks express concerns over social issues around the world. Matthew Tsang’s “Before Collapse” shows that with the continuous growth of human population and development of science and technology, the world will reach a critical point of collapse. The pair of feet symbolizes the final fragility of human beings.
“The purpose of planning this exhibition was to show sculptures in public spaces. People could touch the works. They will become a part of the artworks,” said Tim Marlow, artistic director of the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the participation of the public shows a different view of city scene of Hong Kong. No matter they are taking photos with a big pumpkin or chatting with friends sitting next to a sculpture, people in this city are having resonance with the works of art. The exhibition successfully gives people a chance to slow down their pace of life in this metropolitan and discover the hidden charm the city.
On March 15th, the Hong Kong Arts Center announced that four sculptures were damaged and had been removed. The pieces removed were Truisms by Jenny Holzer. The pieces feature four white marble benches, each has a Chinese sentence on top to show the controversial ideas of human relationships.
The purpose of Harbour Arts Sculpture Park is to let people appreciate art without barriers. The bench exhibits were deliberately not surrounded by railings but because of their bench-like appearances, visitors may touch or even sit on them. This wore out the exhibits faster than expected. Alongside with the removal of Truisms, most of the exhibits were fenced to protect them. Guards were placed next to Yayoi’s pumpkin to effectively protect the valuable art piece .
A similar event happened in 2017. A mall “Olympian City” held a Gundam exhibition. Visitors could touch the exhibits. Staff found that children used Gundam figures’ arms for pull-ups, resulting in severe damage to the figures on the first day of the exhibition.
While Hong Kong, as an artistic hub gives us the privilege to appreciate masterpieces easily, this privilege comes with a responsibility. Visitors must respect artwork and remember every piece represents the hard work of artists.
You can visit the exhibition in Central and Western District Promenade & Wan Chai. The exhibition is open to the public and that is free entrance. You can also visit the website: https://www.harbourarts.hk/ for further information and details.