Conducted at the Hong Fook Mental Health Association, the OAC-funded 1000 Candles project has invited clients to get in touch with their personal visions of light and whatever keeps them going during dark times, while expressing this through painting.
The first of our two groups was held at Hong Fook’s North York location, located conveniently across the street from Fairview Mall. As this was the very first run of the course, it allowed me to see how the structure of the program would take. The first three sessions are devoted to teaching introductory drawing and painting technique, providing first-time students (of which there were quite a few) a chance to grapple with some basic principles before moving on to produce their own design concept.
During the last three, the class shared with each other some of the things they hold most dear, and these ideas they would collectively shape into their final 18″ x 24″ masterworks! (This is a whole thing… When we first formulated the project, we anticipated larger canvases and just a handful of students but could not have expected the overwhelming popularity it received after just a little outreach! Our original numbers more than doubled.)
With a few Mandarin and Cantonese speakers in the room, a large percent of attendance was also accounted for by a certain plucky Korean contingent. (A shout out here to the fine translators that ensured a seamless communication!) Each group member introduced a unique mixture of personal and cultural content to their work, and it was clear from the combination of quiet focus and outright laughter that while the group most definitely took their pursuits seriously, there was something unquestionably uplifting about spending this creative time together.
It’s been a pleasure to share the photos and stories spindling out of North York with the second group, now currently underway at Hong Fook downtown. And it’s not just me that’s sharing! One particularly enthusiastic participant from Group 1 (who went on to create further works on the 1000 Candles theme after our sessions had concluded!) volunteered to talk about his experiences with the new, fresh-faced bunch. Word on the street is that he may even be on the list of guest speakers at October’s final showcase… More on that later.
In the meanwhile, behind the scenes we have been working on the video for the project, as well as the catalogue containing pictures and descriptions of every artist’s work – both of which will be available in October. Annie Tse, Hong Fook staff member, has been essential in overseeing these initiatives, while rock star summer student Wendy Xie has invested her considerable creative talent into both the video and the book, above and beyond regular duties. Thanks to both of you for helping make this one amazing adventure!