20 Years of ART JAM® : How It Began
A personal story by Betty Cheung
Towards the end of 1999, I suffered a major disappointment in my Architectural career, which was already 10 years strong. I let my overthinking get the better of me and unfortunately I failed my first attempt at the final stage of my professional examination. I was gutted and embarrassed to the point that I could feel my usual happy-joking-smiley personality drain away completely. For the first time in my life I felt genuinely depressed. These feelings deepened over time and they stayed.
It didn’t affect me professionally much, but socially, I was having a lot of trouble sustaining a smile. I didn’t feel good any more.Betty Cheung
A few months later, a friend of mine, Wilson Chik, asked me to take some head shots for his work. I hadn’t taken photographs with my NIKON F3 SLR camera for a long while. But after spending an hour with our relaxed outdoor shoot, I was transformed. I quite literally felt half of me still dulled by my depression and the other half of me bursting with creative explosions of pride and joy. I was confused and excited and it didn’t take long to realize, I needed to return to my happy childhood experiences and I would feel happy again.
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I made a creativity bucket list. Sketching. Life drawing. Painting. Photography. Darkroom. Whatever I could think of I would do it. Creative self therapy would be the answer. I was committed. I went and bought lots of painting and art supplies — I remember spending HK$3000 (in 1999 would be about HK$4800 today) on canvasses and acrylic paints. Right away, I attempted to paint a portrait. After an hour of setting up in my living room and 45 minutes of trying, I gave up and put everything away in a closet.
Fast forward 6 months. I overcame my depression and did lots of life drawing and I started a little studio/gallery/darkroom with friends and I returned to my normal cheery self. Then one day, I opened up that closet door and felt a big let down. All those canvasses and paints were untouched
No 1 on my creativity bucket list — painting — was yet to be checked off. Considering my failure to launch, months before, I thought to turn morph painting into something fun and social. Hence on Saturday 4 March 2000 (end of the day, midnight), the first ever ART JAM was held in Sheung Wan for 10 adventure seekers.