Iconography in Hong Kong

Exploring Icons in Hong Kong

Introducing icon painting to the Chinese community

A collaboration of Sister Esther and her Hong Kong students during 2022

The following extract is from a newsletter sent to the BAI from an iconographer in Hong Kong together with some images kindly sent to us about this initiative.

Introducing the sacred art of Iconography to Hong Kong Christian was a mission taken up by Sister Esther in association with Bonfire World, a Hong Kong-based charity organization for evangelization. Sister Esther first came to Hong Kong 2013 to give a week-long course on iconography. Since then, it has become an annual event for those interested in this art. From 2014 to 2019, Bonfire World, together with Sister Esther has organized an annual two-week long workshop on icon painting for the students of Hong Kong for six years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to almost all countries of the world. Social and physical distancing measures, lockdowns of businesses, schools and overall social life, which have become commonplace to curtail the spread of the disease, have also disrupted many regular aspects of life, including sport and physical activity.  Therefore, Sister Esther’s icon painting workshop could not be carried out these three years. Hong Kong students always hope that Sister Esther would come to Hong Kong again very soon.

To continue Sister Esther’s mission, Bonfire World still tried the best to organize workshop on icon painting whenever the relaxation of social distancing measures was announced by the Government. There were totally six workshops carried out for the past three years, including Oct.2020, Jun2021, Oct.2021, Dec.2021, Aug.2022 and Dec.2022. The second book EXPLORING ICONS WITH HONG KONG STUDENTS – FEAST DAYS was lauched at the end of 2020. This book was strongly supported by Sister Esther for the liaison with the Priory of Our Lady of Peace in Turvey Abbey in Bedfordshire and British Association of Iconography. It provides a good introduction to icons associated with the main Liturgical feasts of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The icons in the book illustrated are taken from the Iconostasis of the large Greek Catholic Melkite Church of the Beatitudes in Ibillin, situated in Galilee, Isreal. Hong Kong Students have also produced their own icons too and sharing their own meditative thoughts. For the launching of the new book, there was a re-union meeting in Bonfire World for gathering all the participants of the workshops together with Sister Esther through the Zoom meeting.

The exhibition of icons named “Feast Days” was recently held from 12Dec2022 to 2Jan2023 at Beyond, the coffee shop in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. The icons for thirteen feast days included: The Nativity of the Theotokos, The Exaltation of the Cross, The Presentation of the Theotokos, The Nativity of Christ, The Baptism of Christ, The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, The Annunciation, The Entry into Jerusalem, The Ascension of Christ, Pentecost, The Transfiguration, The Dormition of the Theotokos and The Resurrection/The Descent into Hell and the icons of angels were displayed in the exhibition. All the displayed icons were written by nine Hong Kong students. A prayer gathering, as our opening ceremony was carried out on the night of 13th December 2022 at the coffee shop. We shared food, drinks as well as our experience with icons. In the meeting, Father TK Lau, the Hong Kong priest blessed the exhibition and all the people there. During the period of exhibition, the writers of the icons were to take turn to be the docent every day from 3pm to 4pm. for personal sharing.  Meantime, a spiritual workshop for five senses with icons was carried out on 18th December 2022.  On the last day of the exhibition, we had a debriefing and prayer meeting to conclusion the whole event.

Jacqueline and Johnson, a couple who are the owners of Beyond, the coffee shop said that there were many people interested in the event and more clients came in from 3pm to 4pm. Most amazing things happened these three weeks, especially some friends and overseas relatives suddenly and surprisingly came into the shop. They have not met each other for a long time and they were so happy to meet again. Moreover, a Catholic singers group “AMDG” came for dinner on 12th December 2022, the first day of the exhibition and they were totally attracted by the icons. The live show for Christmas was immediately lined up with the AMDG, the Emmanuel and the Youth Boiling Point. On the night of 23rd December 2022, the Music Moment was recorded in Beyond and broadcasted online. They could not believe all these happened in such a short time. It seemed that some miracles happened as everything was well arranged and presented.

Choi-yin Lee, the icon writer and the organizer: Choi-yin said that she has the strong feeling of Holy Spirit. She said, “We do the best, God do the rest.” Thanks God!

Deacon Lam Sair Ling, the advisor: He expressed his sincere thanks for all people who have made the contributions. He felt amazing and surprising. When we made the Christmas decoration and hanged the icons on the wall, he has a feeling of feast day at home.