HK Magazine - - CULTURE - Com­piled by Jes­sica Wei

Tif­fany Pink­stone is the di­rec­tor of the Sov­er­eign Art Foun­da­tion, which holds the an­nual Sov­er­eign Asian Art Prize. Ev­ery year the foun­da­tion auc­tions off the work of the prize’s fi­nal­ists and pro­ceeds go to their Make It Bet­ter cam­paign, which pro­vides arts ther­apy to dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in Hong Kong. Pink­stone tells Jes­sica Wei about the foun­da­tion and the ben­e­fits of en­cour­ag­ing arts ther­apy in the com­mu­nity.

HK Mag­a­zine: So how does the Sov­er­eign Art Foun­da­tion work?

Tif­fany Pink­stone: We were set up in 2003, which is when I joined. There are two main aims: To rec­og­nize and sup­port mid-ca­reer artists from the re­gion, and to raise as much money as we can for char­ity. The two go very much hand-in-hand be­cause we run the art prize, which is where we find the artists, and then we auc­tion those pieces to raise money for char­ity. So the artists get 50 per­cent and the char­ity gets 50 per­cent.

HK: How do you usu­ally find the artists?

TP: We have a panel of nom­i­na­tors who are made up of in­de­pen­dent cu­ra­tors, from art crit­ics and pro­fes­sors to mu­seum di­rec­tors and cu­ra­tors. We usu­ally have about 300-odd en­tries, and they get nar­rowed down to the top 30 by a panel of in­de­pen­dent judges. We’ll have our fundraiser on June 3, where we’ll an­nounce our first prize win­ner, and then we’ll have the auc­tion [at] Christie’s.

HK: What ex­actly is your char­i­ta­ble work?

TP: Last year, we took the bull by the horns and de­cided to cre­ate our own grass­roots pro­gram. We hired some arts teach­ers and a pro­gram man­ager to de­velop arts ther­apy based work­shops for dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren around Hong Kong. We now run seven weekly work­shops and we’ve part­nered with the Univer­sity of Hong Kong. Stu­dents who are study­ing arts ther­apy come to our work­shops, sit with the teach­ers and help us fine-tune the pro­gram so we can best suit the needs of the chil­dren.

HK: Where are your cen­ters lo­cated?

TP: There are two cen­ters in Sham Shui Po, and they serve eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged kids. A lot of these chil­dren come from mi­grant fam­i­lies: their par­ents might be il­le­gal im­mi­grants. But we also run pro­grams in schools in Tse­ung Kwan O and Kowloon City which cater to­wards chil­dren with autism and se­vere ADHD. Those classes are a lot smaller. We also have a pro­gram in Tai Wai and Wong Tai Sin. HK: How do your work­shops dif­fer be­tween the dif­fer­ent groups?

TP: I think the themes re­main the same, but the at­ten­tion we give the chil­dren is dif­fer­ent. The kind of themes we run are about aware­ness of self. It starts with a pro­gram called

“I, Me and My­self,” and we look into the com­mu­nity in which they live. We take them on a lit­tle ex­cur­sion around their area. Then we get them to work in groups to cre­ate a model of what their ideal com­mu­nity would be. But we also take them out to coun­try parks, where some of these chil­dren have never been. We’ll make sculp­tures with pieces of leaves and twigs. It’s to give them added ex­po­sure [to the world] as well as get­ting them to think more about them­selves, to help them build up their con­fi­dence.

HK: What ben­e­fits have you seen?

TP: Take our classes in Kowloon City—there are 10 chil­dren in that class with autism, and just by pro­vid­ing a struc­ture you can see it re­ally helps them fo­cus. What we’d like to do next is try to bring the care­giver in to these classes. A lot of these chil­dren come from poor homes and their care­giver might not know how to deal with them and their is­sues. We’d like to bring some of these ex­er­cises back into the home, so they can ap­ply these prin­ci­ples to help their child.

See the fi­nal­ists’ work and cast your vote for the prizewin­ner at the Sov­er­eign Art Foun­da­tion’s open­ing party on May 24, 7pm.

The Ro­tunda, One Ex­change Square, 8 Con­naught Place,

Cen­tral. The art auc­tion will be held on June 3 at the Four Sea­sons Hong Kong. sovereignart­foun­da­tion.com

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