Curbing cancer with the art of 'self love'

City talk | Terence Chang 24 Dec 2020

Karen Leung Foundation executive director Katharina Reimer told me the mission of the charitable body is to encourage women to pay more attention to their health and raise awareness about gynecological cancer to empower women to overcome the stigma and tackle the illness bravely.

"Raising awareness" and "prevention" as well as "care and support" are each an indispensable part of the foundation's work, she says.

Talking about gynecological cancer can be difficult for some, so Reimer enlisted the help of 18 artists to express through their work the message of self love, which is the first step - and an important step - toward cancer prevention. The project has gained positive feedback.

Painter Faye Wei Wei's etching is for her late friend Dora who died of cervical cancer. She always thought of the color red when thinking of her.

Afa Annfa drew calla lilies, seeing how their sepal protects the flower but is itself fragile and needs to be handled with care. She believes women in modern society "are no longer only nurturers but also dream pursuers."

So "besides taking care of others they should also pay more attention to their own health physically and mentally."

Also featuring flowers on the subject of self care and the female body were the drawings of Tanya Bennett that mirror "intimate and vulnerable" experiences as well as Ophelia Jacarini's digital imagery that confronts the stigma surrounding female nudity.

Eunice Cheung Wai-man painted jellyfish as she found these "mothers in the water" have "the most distinctive connotations." Her message: "Precious jellyfish will shine. Please check your body regularly, shine and dance." That is a precise response to the "prevention" that Reimer talks about, an ounce of which is worth a pound of cure.

I told Reimer it was quite incredible that she was able to mobilize so many artists to join in this meaningful project.

She responded it was teamwork that produced The ExtraOrdinary Exhibition, which started at the Eaton Hotel before moving to Tai Kwun in Central, then Womanboss in Sham Shui Po until the end of January.

The show, designed to promote health literacy, is extraordinary just as its name suggests, as it has been well attended even under the epidemic. If possible, it will continue in other districts.

Reimer believes in the "power of network" and is heartened by the exhibition's ripple effect that lets her truly feel how precious "a sense of community" is.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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