The Friends of the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong is celebrating 40 years of doing it all, from preserving great art from ancient cultures to supporting the ambitions of aspiring student artists.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Art Museum of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the 40th anniversary of the Friends of the Art Museum, Sotheby’s Hong Kong held an exhibition, Celebrating Our 40 Years!, followed by a charity auction on December 3.
Friends of the Art Museum, CUHK: “Celebrating Our 40 Years!”
The Friends of the Art Museum was founded in 1981 to promote the study and appreciation of Chinese art and culture. To that end, the organisation sponsors lectures, study groups and tours to places of interest in Hong Kong and throughout Asia, as well as fund-raising activities such as the latest auction or gala dinners, annual scholarships to art students at The Chinese University and contributions to the Art Museum’s acquisition fund.
“It’s our mission to be a partner of the Art Museum and the University, to help them reach their goals, to support their students, and to support art education and art awareness in the community,” says the organisation’s chairman, Peter Woo. “Four years ago, I got involved through the-then chair lady. My interest lies in Asian and Chinese art – I myself have practised Chinese calligraphy for nearly 30 years.”
The mission to support and contribute to the Museum is more pertinent now than ever, especially as the institution is currently undergoing a major programme of expansion and renovations. “We look to donate works and raise public awareness for the Museum through visits, lectures,” says Woo. “As Covid recedes, we’re also looking forward to resuming in-person events for our members, such as overseas tours and organising a range of activities including lectures and visits. We endeavour to have programmes that cater to the interests of our diverse membership.”
That membership includes patrons such as notable Hong Kong solicitor and avid collector Edwin Mok. “I was passionate about art when I was studying in the UK at the University of Oxford,” he says. “I enjoyed visiting the Ashmolean Museum and, when I was working in London as a trainee solicitor, I spent many weekends visiting the British Museum and the Sir Percival Davis collection at SOAS University of London. When I returned to work in Hong Kong about 10 years ago, the then chair, Dominica Yang asked me if I’d like to start the Collectors Circle for the 35th anniversary of the Friends. I accepted her invitation – and here I am!”
For Mok, an enthusiasm for great art is the continuation of a family tradition, as he counts several collectors among his relatives. “Indeed, collecting works of art from the Qing Courts has been a long-term passion – I’ve indulged myself by collecting these exquisite pieces for more than 15 years. The collection comprises 22 items, including an Imperial clock, edict, throne, robes for the emperors and their families, as well paintings by the Empress Dowager Cixi.”
Aside from providing scholarships and grants for students of Oriental Studies and similar subjects, funds raised by the Friends of the Art Museum also go to fostering public interest in the Museum and its activities, as well as to promoting a wider appreciation of Chinese art and culture throughout the local community.
For the Sotheby’s exhibition and subsequent sale, more than 20 works of art were donated by artists, including Chien Wan Li, Malou Hung and Kwok Mang Ho (aka The Frog King), and collectors. Ten pieces by CUHK Fine Arts students and graduates were also selected for exhibition, not only showcasing outstanding works by emerging artists, but also supporting the local art scene, raising awareness of a new generation of local artists, and helping to create an artistic inheritance for Hong Kong.