Designer Victor Liu’s experience of public life-drawing is positive. “Strangers find us strange because they are not comfortable with a bunch of people holding their sketchbooks,” he says. “But later on they asked: ‘Oh can you do a portrait for me? I can be your model.”
What starts as an ad hoc portrait drawing initiated by one party can turn into a conversation with a stranger, as Geeio Yuen found out during his first life drawing session on MTR.
“I drew a man whose age was around 50. Then we chatted about kids nowadays, their attitudes and trends, about the difference between people of different generations,” Yuen recalls. “The feeling for me is special.”
In Yuen’s eyes, Hong Kong people focus more on money and the material aspects of life, even when it comes to art. Galleries in Hong Kong mostly aim to make money. “For them, most artists are just like a product,” he says. “But a lot of people from the younger generation are doing different kinds of art. To them, it is not for money.”
Gallery owner Cathy Lee May-yee is also a participant of House for the Bum. She has praise for a group of young art lovers trying to present themselves to the public. But she also points out the hard fact that opportunities and markets are lacking for potential artists in Hong Kong.
“All artists dream of a gallery or a museum to showcase their art. Unfortunately, here in Hong Kong, a local artist can only find places like a boutique or pub to show that he is a really talented artist,” Lee says.
Ho agrees that galleries in Hong Kong do not think highly of local artists. “They endorse Chinese contemporary artists or those that sell for big money,” she says. “We feel like art in Hong Kong is either really high-end or only in galleries and museums.”
Yet, when it comes to street art, nobody needs to be the next Picasso, Rothko or even Yue Minjun.
“I like these events,” Yuen says, “because art is not something really advanced or should not be considered a luxury. Everyone can share art, everyone can have art.”
Ho says some participants were worried about their drawing skills but she told them to just give it a try. “We think art has many forms and many styles. One should not be limited to just a certain standard,” Ho says. “Everybody can do art.”