We all had dinner at a noodle shop in Kowloon Tong together to say goodbye, except Tracey Jones (Tracey where were you?) and Yu who was very diligently doing homework; it was great fun as always but also sad. I will really, really miss them all.
To my horror we were asked to say a few words at the private view. Public speaking is not my strong point so I had to (as usual) write something. I am definitely not one of these clever people who can speak off the cuff. This is what I wrote:
I would never actively encourage anyone to be an artist, it is a really hard life unless you are extremely lucky and you must really want to do it. However, if you really do want to do it, it is the best life imaginable!
The students whose work you see today have proved beyond a doubt that they have the right stuff. They really want to do it. They came to see us again and again in our studio wanting to know when the workshops would start. When we did begin, they never seemed to want to go home! Their enthusiasm, hard work and openmindedness was boundless and I am proud to consider them my fellow artists in this exhibition.
When we arrived we did not really know what to expect and I am sure the school felt the same. I think it has been somewhat of an experiment for Lee Shau Kee and I hope it will be considered a success. Personally, It has been a transformational experience for me working at this school. It has given me time and head space to consider my work and both personally and professionally it has been a wonderful journey. I have loved working with the students here, their enthusiasm, friendliness and charm has been a delight.
I would like to take this opportunity again to thank Ada and May for their enlightened and generous approach. This type of residency is something artists dream of and unfortunately only seldom find. It has been a wonderful experience.
I would also like to thank my co-artist Grace, for all her hard work and enthusiasm.
To end we have a little something for each student. We think they deserve a prize:
Wong Cheuk Man
Yu (Way Pik Yu)
Chim (Chim Man Ting)
Mikki (M Cheese – not convinced this is a Chinese name Mikki)
Sam (Yau Yik Sum)
2.3 (Leung Kwok Shan)
Tracey (Tracey Tse)
Skye (Wong Ho Yi)
Helen (Fung Hei Nam)
[Everyone received a box of acrylic paints as a prize.]
ACRYLIC ON PAPER
I am showing all the paintings I have produced at Lee Shau Kee during the residency.
As they are works-in-progress I have arranged them informally, much as you would see them on my studio wall.
I also wanted the arrangement to reflect a journey, with all its byways, digressions and detours. This reflects the journey I am making in my work and life.
The word DEPARTURE refers to a journey. It can also be used to signify change.
Some of the work on display. Chinese names in brackets, titles in caps with a short description in their own words afterwards.
Mich Maroney – Time Regained
I have entitled this statement “Time Regained” because essentially time is what this residency has given me.
It has been transformational to have three months working somewhere as inspirational as the Lee Shau Kee School, away from everyday responsibilities and away from the cold and damp! The generosity of the school and Hing-Jhe, Eno Yim, May Fung and Ada Wong has been overwhelming. It is this kind of patronage which artists always seek but, unfortunately, seldom find. It has been a wonderful experience working with the students. They are the most charming and lovely bunch, full of warmth and humour and a great credit to the school. Many thanks to all.
The residency has enabled me to make many quick, preparatory works, to make mistakes and experiment. It is a great luxury to be able to do this and I have made really good use of the time. I have produced over fifty small paintings which have both helped me work out where I am coming from and where I am going. They are a direct response to the world around me without being “impressions” or a visual diary. It is the simple, everyday things about living in Hong Kong which have made the greatest impact on me and my work. The colour, the calligraphy, the food, the language and the people have all had an effect.
Returning to Hong Kong has also made me think about Time Past. As well as clarifying where I come from and where I am going in my work, it has had a similar effect on a personal level.
I was born in Hong Kong but we left when I was seven. It has been a valuable and profoundly moving experience to be able to live again in the place where I grew up. Coming back to Hong Kong has put me in touch with aspects of myself that had long lain dormant. I has helped me make sense of myself, as well as my work, in subtle and interesting ways. I have had the opportunity to get in touch with my family again which has been a very happy experience. I am much more of a Hong Konger than I thought! Bits of long-forgotten Cantonese have begun to resurface as well as many memories; some happy, some sad. The inner life and outer world share equal importance in my work and childhood is crucial in forming subject matter, perception and feeling. It has been wonderful to refresh my memory bank and to add new experiences.
Our time at Lee Shau Kee has more than fulfilled the expectations we had when setting up Common Ground (commongroundhome.com). It has felt like coming home.
We are very excited and pleased that the school are putting on an exhibition at the Gallery here. This will show the works-in-progress we have produced during the residency at Lee Shau Kee and will also show the work produced by the students in the workshops. Chu Chai has produced a wonderful poster.
At the end of the last workshop we discussed what we had been doing and decided that doing abstract colour studies was very hard. Wong Cheuk Man said “Hong Kong students find this kind of freedom difficult” and my answer was that freedom is difficult, in painting as in everything else. We decided to concentrate on the figure for this session and we started off with a longish pose. Unfortunately for them I was the model as we wanted everyone to have as much time painting as possible. They were limited to one colour in paint and one oil pastel. Other than that they could choose whichever tools they wanted and coloured paper as well. We then did a series of quick poses and studies to loosen up again and at the end of the day finished by continuing with the first longer painting. Everyone worked extremely hard. It was a very rigorous workshop and, considering they are midway through exams, their levels of concentration and commitment were fantastic. We gave ourselves a round of applause at the end for sheer hard work and commitment. MAM