CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 10 November 2018

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If I draw, I draw for God

Lines and colours have been the best friends of Elizabeth Kwong Pui-yin since her early school days. She had her education in St. Paul Convent School, Causeway Bay, where she studied since kindergarten and the religious sisters told her to pray whenever trials came her way. She remembers that she would pray at the chapel before tests and examinations. 
 
When she was young, colours, pencils and papers occupied her world. She would draw whenever she was free from her homework or housework to express her happiness or sadness. Since primary school, she has drawn pictures to express her faith. 
 
Although not yet baptised, she used to cherish the time spent in the beautiful church on the school campus. Her desire to be baptised was realised only decades later after sailing through some bitter life experiences.    
 
Kwong was going steady in the career of her choice and painting as her passion. She enjoyed painting and even had an international exhibition of her art works in Europe. 
 
But life had its twists and turns, landing her in deep distress and depression. She quit her job and withdrew into herself.
 
When a forward journey seemed impossible, Kwong opted for a detour and thus, decades after leaving school, she walked back to the chapel in the school campus. An immediate sense of serenity and peace overwhelmed her. Although she was not yet baptised nor had any idea of the sacramental life of the Church, she frequented the chapel everyday and spent many hours before the Blessed Sacrament. 
 
Speaking with the Sunday Examiner about her journey to Catholic faith, Kwong recounted that there were many days when she would attend two or three Masses and was so keen to hear the different homilies on the same gospel reading of the day. 
 
The message of the gospel prompted her to take up her brush and paint again. Meanwhile, she joined the catechumenate programme at St. Margaret’s Church, Happy Valley, only two years ago and was baptised in 2017. 
 
Kwong’s artwork on gospel messages began to draw the attention of the parishioners in the Church groups and it had reached Father Joseph Liu Ah-lun, the parish priest of Holy Redeemer parish, Tuen Mun. And he entrusted her with the task of painting the Via Lucis (Stations of the Resurrection). 
 
A meditation on the resurrection and subsequent events in the life of Jesus, it is a set of 14 sculpture paintings in modern style, in which the contrast of colours are in focus instead of the detailed outline of the characters.  
 
When the paintings were completed they were blessed by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong, at Holy Redeemer Parish on April 28, and they now adorn the church. 
 
Artists are often perfectionists and are seldom content with their work. Kwong believes her own strict rules about colours is her major burden in painting. She recalls that at first she did not feel confident about painting for the parish, because she previously experienced a lot of difficulty with colours and expressing the emotions of the characters in her attempt to paint the Way of the Cross. 
 
So she told Father Liu that she would pray to see if the job is the will of God! She went to Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Yuen Long, to attend the Eucharistic Adoration and pray there.
 
Kwong gratefully acknowledges the priest’s encouragement in the completion of her work and says, “if not for his support, I would not have had the motivation to paint.” 
 
However, she has no worries that her inspirations for religious paintings will one day dry up as she says she is an emotional person and moody pictures will flood to her mind whenever she is moved by a sad song or a trip. 
 
Kwong’s sketching style and drawings differ from the usual religious paintings seen around. Sharp colours and complex lines are unique to her works, perhaps explaining the bitter and complex experiences she has had to sail through from her childhood till now. 
 
Struggles in her own life have taught her to pay attention to the pains and struggles of those around her, instead of focussing on her own problems. 
 
She has been a generous contributor towards the treatment of children with terminal illnesses in the Philippines, that too when she herself was left stranded without a job! She is moved by the stories of the sufferings of children. Now she has picked up a part time job of caring for the sick.
 
But she has no regrets. “Knowing the Lord is the best part of my life”, she says. “I am inspired to draw when I am before the Blessed Sacrament. So, now if I draw, I draw for God!”