Talking Art : Edmond Chung Kong-mo

exhibitionThe root of Hong Kong’s culture activities originated from the Banyan Tree in Yau Ma Tei. Or so we were told. To find out more, who would be a better interviewee than Edmond Chung Kong-mo, the Yau Tsim Mong District Council Chairman and WKCD Authority board member?

The newly re-elected district council member told “Talking Art” he is a big fan of pop singers’ concerts. He is happy to promote arts and culture in the community, and lay a good foundation for the future cultural hub. 

Q: What was your first encounter of arts and culture?

A: When I was a kid, I watched my dad writing Chinese calligraphy for our neighbours. I was too young to receive formal training, but I’ve got to know the basic technique of Chinese calligraphy structure. I chose Chinese calligraphy and portrait sketch for the subject of Art when I sat for the Hong Kong Certificate of Examination but didn’t practise much since then. Now it is my turn to write Chinese auspicious messages for my “Kai Fong” (neighbor) every Chinese New Year and I have been doing so since 1999. Although my work might not be as good as the masters, I add in my own personal style with a cartoonified version, which is also very popular!

Q: Did these experiences inspire you any ways?

A: I’ve learnt to be well-prepared for everything in life from the philosophy of calligraphy structure. I was also very keen on Chinese chess and was actually the champion of the school competition in Form Two. This traditional culture has inspired me to be well-planned before each attempt.

exhibitionQ: Do you like museum?

A: I was a backpacker visiting a lot of museums and heritage sites in Mainland China and some European countries in my university years. I was particularly interested in the history of currency. But I was only a student and did not know how to appreciate it back then. Now I am on the Board of the WKCD Authority so I have developed a different view and feeling toward arts and culture.  Recently I’ve visited the Juming Museum in Taiwan and I really like the large-scale sculptures in different forms and admire his artistic sense. In Hong Kong, I enjoy visiting the Museums of History and Heritage.

Q: What about performing arts?

A: I love going to the concerts and my recent favourites are Jacky Cheung and Joey Yung.

Nowadays, concerts have become a three-dimensional art piece – embracing stage design, lighting, costume and choreography. 

Q: Who is your favourite artist?

A: I admire Chinese scholar Jao Tsung-I. I really like Jacky Cheung and Joey Yung as pop singers.

exhibitionQ: Which art form do you think can best represent our local culture?

A: Kung Fu has become synonymous to our local culture at international level in the last few decades. From the novels of Jin Yong and Gu Long to the movies of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, the spirit of Kung Fu and Wu Xia is widely known. It has become part of our life thus derived different forms of creative art including TV, movie, comic, drama and cosplay which is very popular in recent years. Kung Fu is the collective memory Hong Kong people.

Q: How did you change after joining the Board of the WKCD Authority?

A: I’ve got a new mission after joining the Board in late 2008. As the Yau Tsim Mong District Council Chairman, I hope to promote arts and culture in the district besides general community services. With a one-off government funding, the 2010/2011 District Council brought the Yau Tsim Mong District Festival back after over a decade with the themes of arts and culture, community care and traits. We created a festival theme song. Under the leadership of two professional actors from the Spring -Time Experimental Theatre, we produced a musical about the district’s history in the past fifty years with community leaders, Chairmen of the Owner’s Corporations, students and residents of the districts as the cast and crew. The musical was very well-received with a re-run this year.

Q: It should be a lot of fun!

A: A cultural organisation was commissioned to paint the gates of some shops in the fruit market which was a breakthrough. We also invited some painters to lead a group of students to showcase the district through their eyes and we have compiled an album of their paintings. An ethnic cultural exchange activity was held in the Kowloon Park for the local Southeast Asians to perform their unique cultural traditions. Their ethnic wedding costumes were also displayed at the same time. We also collaborated with universities to organise guided tours in the district to introduce its characteristics and special traits. Culture is actually a part of life but we tend to overlook so I hope to remind everyone that we are always surrounded by arts and culture.

exhibitionQ: Will you consider forming an arts and culture committee?

A: We thought of doing it this year but there was not enough time because our term ended in September for the District Council election. We would suggest our successors to establish a related committee to promote arts and culture in the community. The facilities in the WKCD will not be up and running until a few years later so now a good time to reinforce arts education in schools and provide a platform for artists with good potential to be exposed to the public. Support from the government and the WKCD Authority, public participation and nurturing of students for arts appreciation are of course important, involvement of the commercial sector should not be neglected too. The government and the Authority should also soon decide how to continually promote arts and culture in the community so as to lay a good foundation for the project.