Tian Tian Xiang Shang: Creativity-for-Community and School Development Programme (2012)

Initiated by Danny Yung’s conceptual comics, a platform is set up for creative exploration and promotion in schools and the community.

About This Programme

Hong Kong is the capital of creativity, and this year is the “Hong Kong Design Year”. In this significant time, Zuni Icosahedron, sponsored by Create Hong Kong of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, launches a series of communities and school creative outreaching projects, themed on Tian Tian Xiang Shang conceptual comics created by Danny Yung. The project encompasses three stages, including the first stage, Tian Tian Xiang Shang School Workshop, the second stage Tian Tian Xiang Shang Tour Exhibition and Creative Workshop – both stages extending the creative notion to primary and secondary schools and communities in Hong Kong, to interact and collaborate with 3,000 youths and community folks – and the final stage when 108 innovative of Tian Tian figurines created by people from different sectors of our creative society will be presented in Tian Tian Xiang Shang Finale Exhibition at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

For details, please visit: http://www.zuni.org.hk/ttxs/minisite/?lang=en



Tian Tian Xiang Shang (make progress everyday) is a Chinese proverb that Mao Zedong once said in the 1950s to motivate children. This proverb inspired me to create a conceptual comic in 1970s in which I drew children who asked an un-ending barrage of questions and refused to focus on their studies. To me, Tian Tian’s white, three-dimensional body is like a blank piece of paper full of possibilities that people can write or draw on. The person who invented blank paper is a truly artistic designer: the material, dimensions, shape and texture of blank paper are all measures of the designer’s creativity. A blank sheet of paper is a platform or vessel that people can write on, express themselves and discuss things. Our thoughts are expressed in what we write; this expression of our thoughts can be discussed; and the contents of these discussions could become further platforms or vessels for creativity. The more that is written, expressed and discussed, the more likely it is that creativity will be stimulated. 

Hong Kong has always been a free port, with an open door policy, and a platform for communications. Hong Kong’s culture has always been free, open, interactive, and a platform for participation. The principle of Hong Kong’s creative culture has always been the promotion of connection with creative personnel all over the globe, and the facilitation of the spirit of interaction and participation. The spirit of Tian Tian Xiang Shang is exactly Hong Kong’s creative spirit. The exhibition series of Tian Tian Xiang Shang first kicked off in 2010 in Shanghai curated by Freeman Lau in the venue 1933. Then the curator Hu Xiaowei brought it to Beijing’s Today Art Museum, and then it went to the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. In Beijing, a few hundred children were invited to participate in the project, and they were to create their own Tian Tian of 12 cm tall, by adding various colours, signs and symbols, and turned their Tian Tian into their own stories. In the World Expo of Shanghai, 65 artists / designers (including myself) were each to work on a 50cm tall Tian Tian, and try to discover their own selves and their own dreams with their own imagination. These 65 Tian Tians would become the cross-section of Hong Kong culture in the 20th Century. 

This year, the Tian Tian Xiang Shang Creativity-For-Community and School Development Programme launched by Zuni Icosahedron extended to primary and secondary schools all over Hong Kong, working with 3,000 students. Meanwhile, 65 contemporary artists / designers from Tokyo will start a creative dialogue with the 65 artists and designers from Hong Kong by creating their own versions of Tian Tian. At the same time, a series of workshop will be given to children of the Northeast areas of Japan hit by the earthquake last year, making it a more meaningful cross-cultural exchange event of the new generation. 

I am very pleased to have created this programme of creative platform, a project which reflects the creative spirit of Hong Kong, bringing out the creativity of various people, and projecting their collective creativity, but most important of all, is the bringing together of different creative spirits for collaboration. This figure of Tian Tian is like a piece of blank paper, has drawn people closer together, to work and interact with each other under the same framework, without their realising it. They work together to explore the relationship between form and content, dream and vision, making the most of the spirit of Tian Tian Xiang Shang in which children take fanciful flights in their imagination and practise experimental learning.