How The Marco Polo Society, Italian Consul General, City University of Hong Kong And Sino Group Brought Da Vinci To Hong Kong
Since becoming chairman of the Marco Polo Society last year, Michelle Ong has expanded the non-profit organisation’s mission to bolster cultural exchange between Italy and Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China. In 2018, her team staged a Renaissance-themed exhibition of 10 masterpieces from the period. This year, she’s working closely with the Italian Consul General, the City University of Hong Kong and Sino Group to promote two shows in honour of Leonardo da Vinci, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death as well as the forthcoming 50 year anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between China and Italy.
From September 19 to December 16, Leonardo da Vinci: Art and Science Then and Now at the City University of Hong Kong will exhibit rare drawings by Da Vinci along with Da Vinci-inspired paintings by Hong Kong artists. From November 20 to February 19 at Olympian City, Sino Group will host Connecting With Da Vinci, a presentation featuring examples of his contributions to aviation.
Four key figures who have made these exhibitions possible—Michelle, Sino Group’s Nikki Ng, City University’s Isabelle Frank and the Italian Consul General, Clemente Contestabile—talk with Tatler about the forthcoming events.
Chairman of the Marco Polo Society
My goal as chairman is to initiate, support and promote projects that broaden knowledge of Italian arts and culture, which is why we’re so excited about these two exhibitions focused on Leonardo da Vinci. His art is incredibly inspiring to me, especially as a jewellery designer, which is why my favourites from the showcases are his drawings: they give us an intimate glimpse into the workings of an artist. You see the mistakes, the deliberations, the ideas that are slowly coming to life. I’m also excited about the Sino Land exhibition. Da Vinci is better known as an artist, and there have been few exhibitions about him as an inventor. This aviation theme will allow us to learn more about him as an inventor as well as his vast understanding of physics and engineering. I hope people will get to experience and learn more about Da Vinci as both artist and inventor.
Consul general of Italy in Hong Kong
The Italian Government is commemorating Da Vinci with a year-long programme of shows and conferences around the world. I wanted to also celebrate him in Hong Kong, as he’s hugely admired here. The Consulate General received access from the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan to 12 drawings from Da Vinci’s Atlantic Codex, a volume of sketches never seen in Hong Kong. The drawings, which cover a range of subjects such as botany, mathematics and musical instruments, will be shown at the City University. The show’s opening will coincide with the launch of Italia Mia, our new festival that we’re co-organising with the Marco Polo Society and the Italian Chamber of Commerce, which celebrates excellence in Italian culture and art, and we’ll be hosting concerts, film screenings, wine tastings and more.
Director of the Exhibition Gallery at the City UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
When the university was offered the possibility of hosting this exhibition, we thought it would be a great opportunity to feature local artists. So we asked faculty and alumni from the university’s School of Creative Media if they wanted to produce new-media artworks for the exhibition inspired by Da Vinci, and we worked with them to finalise their projects. As a result, we’ll be featuring 12 works by Hong Kong artists and an Italian artist, along with the 12 Da Vinci drawings, five machines built based on his drawings and a 17th-century copy of one of his paintings. The sketches from Da Vinci’s Atlantic Codex represent different facets of his explorations, done at different stages of his life. I hope visitors will have a renewed sense of wonder at the imagination and research of Da Vinci himself, and an awareness that art can lead to true discoveries.
Group general manager of Sino Group and deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation
We are honoured to have the opportunity to work with the Marco Polo Society and Italy’s Leonardo3 Museum to present Connecting With Da Vinci. The exhibition will feature 12 3D recreations of his machines drawn in the Atlantic Codex, including a 12-metre aircraft, a mechanical bat and other installations covering flight, automation, architecture and music. Visitors will also be able to flip through a digital version of the Atlantic Codex and see a VR digital restoration of the famous Da Vinci painting The Last Supper. We think Olympian City is a wonderful venue to celebrate Da Vinci’s genius. It is a family-friendly mall that supports art and science, and is home to the city’s first in-mall STEM lab. Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area are poised to become China’s Silicon Valley, with innovation and technology as driving forces of the economy.
See also: Exclusive: The Marco Polo Society’s Shaping the Human Body Exhibition Opening