The Yim Tin Tsai Arts Festival has transformed the sleepy island village of Yim Tin Tsai into an open-air museum.


An art piece entitled Coming Home, made of bamboo and metallic wind chimes, welcomes visitors as they step off the boat and onto the island.


Within a few steps, visitors can take a rest on a uniquely shaped wooden sculpture.


Artist Wong Cheuk-kin hopes people will be able to admire the beauty of nature through the sculpture, Flowing WaveWalking Cloud, made from three trees on the island which were destroyed by last year’s typhoon Mangkhut.


Mr Wong said: “It bears the memory of the village here, how they lived here, how they farmed here, how they fished here as a culture.”


The history of the village can be traced back to the early 1700s when the original inhabitants were Hakkas of the Chan family.


Islanders made a living by producing salt and fishing, and numbered more than 200 during the village’s most prosperous period.


A catholic mission was sent to Yim Tin Tsai in 1864. In 1866, about 30 people from the Chan family were baptised, while the remaining islanders were baptised in 1875.


One-of-a-kind culture

Other festival artworks, including RefractionReflection, which is a set of reflective shapes representing salt in various shapes and sizes, and Bamboo Chapel, which combines innovative ideas with traditional Chinese arts and crafts, reflect the village’s distinctive history, traditional salt pans and iconic St. Joseph’s Chapel.


One of the highlights of the festival is Ho Man-chung’s Sanctuary of Salt, which combines traditional culture with advanced technology. The sculpture exhibits salt crystals, their characteristics and relationship with people and nature.


The festival opens today and will be held for a month.


Its curator Simon Go said: “I expect the festival can let the people to have a really extraordinary experience. For example, not only to view the artworks, but also to have some spiritual experience in this festival.


“And one more thing is that they have the wonderful salt pans that are still running.”


Organised by the Tourism Commission, the festival is a three-year pilot scheme bringing visitors a new travel experience by integrating arts, religion, culture, heritage and nature.


The event is themed on the sky this year and will be themed on earth and man in the following two years to allow visitors to seek spirituality and inspiration.


“We want to, through arts, bring about the uniqueness of Yim Tin Tsai,” Assistant Commissioner for Tourism Maggie Chow said.


“And through this we want to bring the message of harmony to all visitors because there is a unique Hakka local culture and they believe in the western Roman Catholicism and this uniqueness you can never find in any part of the world.”


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