October 2014 - Volume 15, Issue 4
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Polyu HTM
Murals Enliven Stairwell at SHTM

With the aim of beautifying the SHTM premises and encouraging staff and students to use the staircases more often for the benefit of their health and the environment, the SHTM recently invited Ms Claire Lau, a passionate Hong Kong artist specialising in landscapes, cityscapes and banyan trees, to transform the School's stairwell into an "art gallery". Ms Lau was assisted in the project by Miss Michelle Bok and Miss Lindsay Qian.

The resultant mural takes students, staff and visitors on a visual journey around the globe and breathes life into the formerly blank walls. Each floor features a geographical region, from Australia and Oceania on the third floor, the Americas on the fourth floor, Africa on the fifth floor, Europe on the sixth floor and Asia on the seventh floor, to the North and South Poles on the eighth floor.

Deciding how to best present a region was not easy. During the design process, Ms Lau strived to capture the distinctive qualities of each region, striking a balance between recognisable landmarks and less known aspects that could educate viewers. As a nature-lover, she also included local landscapes and flora and fauna in addition to top tourist symbols. To complete the depiction of the regions, elements of visual and performing arts, culinary arts, local architecture and religious landmarks were included.

Another major consideration was whether a place, architectural element or natural landscape was picturesque. As an environmental conservation advocate, Ms Lau chose some places for more than their picturesque appearance to raise viewers' awareness. For example, the continual disappearance of the South American rain forests is resulting in the destruction of tribal cultures and loss of plant and animal species. The Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia is facing severe environment threats from climate change, pollution and fishing, and is at risk of disappearing if governments do not commit themselves to change.

Although a huge challenge for Ms Lau and her team given its scope, time constraints and physical demands, the mural was one of the most exciting and fulfilling projects they have ever undertaken. They appreciated the School's commitment to educating students beyond textbooks, encouraging them to experience culture and think outside the box.

The SHTM thanks Ms Lau and her team for their remarkable contribution, and is truly grateful to them for transforming the walls into something people can connect to.

This e-newsletter is issued by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
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