victoria-park

Hong Kong’s Victoria Park

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that certainly rings true in the world of art. Much of Asia is famous for its traditional and often very delicate pieces of art made by artisans who are treasured themselves, but they will also now be showing their interest in mixing the old and new as all ages come together at the Temples Culture Festival on October 29 and 30 in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

“Chinese people used to believe worshipping a badly made statue is not a virtue but a sin,” said Vitus Siu Ping-keung, 59, a religious sculptor in Hong Kong.

Siu has been sculpting since he was eight years old, learning from his father who was also a religious sculptor in the area of Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei. He will be the only religious sculptor to show his work, as well as a glimpse into his efficient artistry, as the festival takes place this month.

Chinese religious sculpture is a medium that has been handed down through the ages, with many ancient treasured pieces held in museums, often studied by scholars. Artists such as Siu become quite adept at making smaller works that combine both their artistic talent and religion. After so many years of practice, it takes him less than five minutes to carve the countenance on a small wooden piece, replete with detailed features.

Referred to as quick sculpting, the artistry developed originally in Guangdong, a southern province of China. And while there used to be at least 200 such artists living in Hong Kong, there are few today as young artists delve into more modern artistic practices as well as using digital technology. While of course there are still a rare few who may grow up with an interest in learning how to make such traditional art, chances are they will not be producing the quantity Siu does—and as he pointed out, decades ago, he used to make as many as 3,000 pieces a year.

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Religious sculptor Vitus Siu Ping-keung [Image: The Standard]

At the festival, he will also be showing off his wood engravings amidst more modern works of art from other artists, including what some might consider to be more offbeat, although ingrained in the Taoist and Buddhist religious cultures: temple-keepers will be introducing ‘villain hitting’ and ‘tie the horse leg,’ both of which were meant to work to prevent kids from misbehaving.

While undoubtedly many should be drawn to such displays as well as Siu’s demonstration of artistic prowess, visitors will also be able to delve into progressive technology such as aerial footage of historic Hong Kong temples along with 3D printed models—with one that should be of great interest featuring the Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin, a Grade II historic building built in the 17th century. Fourteen City University students assisted in fabricating the 3D printed miniatures, as well as in getting the aerial footage—a project which took more than four months.

“Che Kung Temple has many decorative roof ornaments that are worth visually documenting as a historical record,” said Frankie Fan Tsz-ki from the gateway education office at City University, where the 3D models and aerial videos were created.

This year marks the first time Hong Kong will have held the event, costing over HK$3 million. According to Chinese Temples Committee member Ip Cheung-ching, they are expecting crowds of up to 30,000 individuals interested in seeing all of the art and activities. Admission is free for all. Discuss in the Hong Kong Festival forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: The Standard]
cu

City University, Hong Kong

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