Exhibition recaptures the fun of childhood
From tomorrow (July 13) to March 2, 2009, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum will stage the "Children's Paradise: The Art of Lo Koon-chiu" exhibition featuring about 250 works of Lo Koon-chiu, the founder of 'The Children's Paradise', a popular local publication.
Based on the publication, the exhibition is a three-dimensional representation of 'The Children's Paradise', in which visitors can wander freely through the works on display to appreciate Lo's lifelong artistic career.
Born in 1918, Lo Koon-chiu first learned Chinese painting in his high school days. He graduated from the Guangzhou Municipal School of Fine Arts in 1938 with a major in Western painting and a minor in design. Art schools of that period focused both on commercial arts training and pure fine art. After settling in Hong Kong in 1947, Lo first worked as the art director at an advertising company and drew illustrations for cultural book stores. In 1953, he founded Hong Kong's first full- colour children's variety publication, 'The Children's Paradise'.
After the war, most mainland artists in Hong Kong moved into in the commercial art market. This social condition helped Lo build his artistic career. He became one of the earliest commercial illustrators in Hong Kong. He was also the art editor and artist of 'The Children's Paradise'. In his vision, he believes art can serve the function of educating the society. He strives to realise the 'beauty of life' by illustrating philosophic ideals and ethical models in his magazine.
As the editor-in-chief of 'The Children's Paradise' for more than 30 years, Lo Koon-chiu's duties included editing of the contents, conducting research, art design, drawing book covers, creating comic strips about everyday life, as well as writing and making drawings based on history and mythology.
Lo Koon-chiu's 'The Children's Paradise' is made up of various columns. From the content headings, one can see every column can broaden children's horizons in different realms. The magazine features a 'Broadcasting Channel', a column that airs interesting news and current affairs worldwide; comics adapted from Chinese and Western fairy tales and mythology; children's songs and games rooted in everyday life; historical stories and overseas sights and travelogues. Indeed, it is an encyclopedia for children. The magazine also features very attractive graphic illustrations. Skillfully finished drawings play a major role throughout and covers are diverse in style, ranging from traditional Chinese paintings in the early years to later comic presentations. The centrefold drawing of each issue is always a major focus. The magazine's paratext form had a great influence on similar children's illustrated magazines of Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s. While children's publications have come and gone through the decades, 'The Children's Paradise' stood out from the rest. Seldom have we seen such dedication and genuine concern for children in other titles.
Likewise, Lo Koon-chiu aspires to change society with childlike innocence. Reading 'The Children's Paradise', readers can appreciate the innocent heart with which he drew. The refreshing style reflects the local social culture and kids' interests in those days. The stories of 'Xiao Yuan Yuan', in particular, are based on everyday life. These common situations that child readers can readily relate to include amusing incidents or challenges met in society, in school or at home. From various angles, Lo depicts their frames of mind and behaviour patterns with great sensitivity and humour. Lo's Xiao Yuan Yuan was in print for more than 30 years. It stood witness to many social changes in Hong Kong: water rationing in the 1960s that many remember well and the Clean Hong Kong Campaign that featured the publicity character 'Litter Bug' in the 1970s. 'Adventures of the Monkey King' is another classic of 'The Children's Paradise'. All the appealing characters have notable personalities and promote geniality. Lo adopted an original approach by presenting classic figures like the Monkey King and the Tang Priest as children. All the dialogue is contemporary and the contents are imbued with creativity.
At the exhibition, visitors will be able to review Lo's preliminary drafts for the publication and the ink paintings created in different periods. A demonstration entitled 'Lo Koon -chiu's Impression of Children's Paradise: An Art Demonstration' will be held on July 16 at 3pm in the museum's Seminar Room. Lo Koon-chiu will demonstrate his art at the scene. Admission to this activity, conducted in Cantonese, is free and 50 seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For details, please call 2180 8260.
Located at 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, the Heritage Museum opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10, with a half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.
Car parking is available at the Heritage Museum. Those who prefer to use public transport may take the MTR to the Che Kung Temple station, which is within three minutes' walk of the museum.
For enquiries, call 2180 8188. For details of the exhibition, visit the Heritage Museum's website at http://hk.heritage.museum.
Ends/Saturday, July 12, 2008
The picture shows one of the exhibits - 'Admit mistakes' from Everyday Life Anecdotes in issue 11 of 'The Children's Paradise', 1953. Everyday Life Anecdotes are about mainly mundane subjects in daily life. Young readers can easily relate to these scenes and understand the educational messages.
The picture shows an exhibit donated by Lo Koon-chiu to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum - the 'Rubber-band rope skipping', ink and colour on paper, in the 'Children's Songs' column. Children's songs are written in simple catchy language that is easy to remember and at the same time inspiring. They are sympathetic to children's mindset.
The picture shows one of Lo's exhibits, 'Rat', ink and colour on paper, published in the 'Travelogues' column. Stories on the exploration of different parts of the world can broaden children's vision and enrich their knowledge. Their exposure to different cultures and ways of life help them to develop an inquisitive mind.