Jan 16-24, 2021
Online virtual exh:-
Dr. Samson Wong’s (Chairperson Art for All)
This is exhibition is not an attempt to ‘create’ culture or ‘preserve’ heritage. The works are a part of people’s lives, given time to take root and mature.
I grew up spending much time with uncles and aunts, grandpas and grandmas on both my parents’ sides. They spoke Teochew Weh (潮州話) more than half of the time, and sometimes directly to us kids as if we understand. Without any conscious effort, we picked up enough for daily listening; especially words they rather us not use. But it was not until I heard pop songs from in Hakka (客家話), Southern Min (閩南話), Tibetian(藏言) and various other languages and dialects that I grew an affinity towards Teochew Weh. Hearing the beauty in other dialects drew me to my grandparents’ native tongue.
Culture is ‘the way we live’; living includes thinking, doing, feeling and everything. When we use the term ‘Heritage’, there is a sense that our ‘living’ was passed down to us, and a certain responsibility for the ‘living’ to live on. The key to this inheritance is that it is ‘living’.
Language evolves, so do cooking, architecture, handmade daily items, farming and fishing methods and many other things. They evolve because they are not frozen for studies and reminiscence, but because they are important to daily lives. However, as a society, we have quickly abandoned these ‘ways of living’ as soon as more convenient and attractive replacements are offered to us. But are they really replaceable?
As we find new ‘ways of living’ to be less than what they promise, we begin to reach back into our heritage. We get back in touch with our extended families, to share stories, names, recipes, piecing them together with the sight, sound and smell of our childhood. Reaching as far back as we can, we slowly realize that these ‘ways of living’ were important to our elders and ancestors not simply because of material necessities and convenience, but because they are of a wholesomeness that words such as relationship, hardship, survival, hope and identity barely describes.
Heritage is not for preservation, it is for you and me. And as such, scholars, artists, historians, government or other experts can only have a supporting role, as in this exhibition. People, as living being, are the only suitable candidate to bare the torch of heritage, to determine how we will continue to live.
May this exhibition inspire us to also live our lives.
By Samson Wong Kei Shun