Here it is! After two long years (and a more frenetic final few weeks) the lion that Zoe and I have been working on is not only finished but is finally “AWOKEN”!!
It was a slow start with periods of times where the lion’s frame was tucked away in storage, or hanging up on the wall collecting dust but there has been periods of times where I would find myself with some spare time to work on it.
As I like to think, slow progress is better than no progress and slowly and eventually in front of my eyes, I was able to turn bits of wood, bamboo, rattan, wool, metal wires, paper and every other material that I needed into a working, functioning lion head!
I was lucky enough to recruit Zoe to help with the whole painting process as she has a steadier hand 😉 and a much greater attention to finer detail. We both had an enjoyable time watching Lion vs Lion a thousand times (she’s probably sick of the movie now) and trying to sketch out the design. For the parts that we couldn’t figure out, we had an equally fun time coming up with our own design patterns based off other lions we’ve seen and studied. It was a shame to have to add the bristle fur on as it masked a bit of the paint job, but on the other hand, it did give it a nice border and made the lion complete.
One of the best things about going through the whole process is paying attention to all the small yet important details that the professional lion head makers have put into their work. I have come to appreciate the various painting patterns and styles that different artists use, as well as the various shapes and styles of lion heads. Even small things like the triggers for the eye lids and ears aren’t left unturned.
We poured through hundreds of pictures of “old” lion heads and pictures of more “modern” lion heads to get inspiration and have both developed a sense of appreciation of the masters of old and new.
I think in the end, the lion that we’ve made and painted lives true to what we wanted- a Choi Sik Guan Gong lion head, painted with a more “traditional” appearance.
The piece was initially planned as more of an artistic work rather than one that was to be actually used for performances. But as the lion started coming together, we thought it would be a big waste if such a thing was relegated to sitting in a box (until we have our own home to display it), and we decided that it would be great to show it off to the world and to let the local people see a “different” (vibrant colours, bristle fur, longer colourful tails with the sausage tail) type of lion head that is not often see nowadays.
The big day of the hoi gong ceremony was to be the 17/02/2013- Freedom Plaza Cabramatta at midday.
To be dotted by the Mayor of Cabramatta in front of the public, distinguished guests, and other lion teams.
I think the reception of the lion was well received. Many people were commenting at how fierce the lion looked and many enjoyed the colourful artwork on the top of the lion as well as its back. The tail, in all its colourful 11ft glory was also well received as a multicoloured tail has not been seen in Cabramatta in a long time.
Following the eye dotting ceremony, it was onto more street and shop performances where our lion was able to parade around the streets of Cabramatta and savor its first meal.
As I mentioned earlier, I initially did not intend the lion to be used for performances so I did not take weight into consideration. The lion head ended up weighing 5.5kg with an extra 1kg for the tail. After half an hour, I think everyone had burned their energy reserves from the previous full day of lion dancing so it was time to rest our weary arms and to let our lion have a bit of a break.
Without further ado, here are a few pictures of the day.