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Local artists to transform Buddy Bears into works of art

Twelve big and plain Buddy Bears have just been transported to Hong Kong from Germany. Local artists will soon start adding colours to the bears to express their feelings about Hong Kong and their wishes for peace and solidarity.

The United Buddy Bears Exhibition, a major public art event being held in Hong Kong for the first time, will be staged at the Central Lawn of Victoria Park from May 16 to June 27. More than 130 big, colourful Buddy Bears will be displayed to promote love, peace, solidarity and public art.

Among the Buddy Bears to be displayed, 12 will be turned into pieces of art by local artists and 120 were designed and painted by artists of different countries.

Local artists will soon start the design and production with a view to giving visitors to the exhibition a totally new visual experience.

A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the exhibition was a golden opportunity for cultural exchange with the works of artists from so many countries being displayed together. "Through viewing the bears, visitors will gain a better understanding of different cultures, and also see the artists' message for peace," he said.

"The form of the exhibition is very special. The Buddy Bears will stand hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to form a circle to give the message of peace, solidarity and love," he added.

In 2002, German couple, Dr Klaus Herlitz and his wife Eva, were inspired to create a symbol representing understanding and tolerance among nations. As they thought bears were universally loved and seen as friendly and cuddly, they came up with the idea of creating Buddy Bears.

"The idea of bringing the Buddy Bears to Hong Kong was initiated by movie star Jackie Chan, who is also the founder of the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation," the spokesman said.

When Mr Chan was filming in Germany last year, he was fascinated by the sight of the enchanting sculptures on the streets. When he learnt that the Buddy Bears carried the message of global peace and tolerance, he proposed bringing the exhibition to Hong Kong and he raised the matter with the Hong Kong Government.

The spokesman said that apart from promoting the message of love, peace and solidarity, the exhibition also aimed to foster public art.

"Displaying the bears at Victoria Park, a place Hong Kong people are so familiar with, not only beautifies the environment, but also shows the public how art can be incorporated into daily life.

"Visitors will be able to see the tremendous potential of public space in promoting creative culture and art. They will also realise the effectiveness of involving both artists and the public in enhancing the cultural aspects of life," he added.

The United Buddy Bears Exhibition is organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Home Affairs Department and the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation and assisted by the Tourism Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong. It will be held from 8am to 10pm daily from May 16 to June 27. Admission is free.

The exhibition will also help raise funds for the Hong Kong Committee for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Community Chest of Hong Kong and the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation. The 12 Buddy Bears to be painted by local artists have secured major sponsorship and the other 120 Buddy Bears will also be sponsored by people from various sectors.

For further information and enquiries, please call 2414 5555 or visit the following websites:

Ends/Friday, April 9, 2004
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