Teaching Materials - Exercise

Personal Object

Name of Artist Educator: Chan Pak Kin
Excercise Category: Self-awareness

It is said that how one treats her/his belongings reflects how s/he treats people around.....

Concept / Inspiration:

It is said that how one treats her/his belongings reflects how s/he treats people around. For example, if someone is not willing to dump things s/he owns, s/he may be a person who prioritizes relationships. If someone throw away her/his belongings often, s/he may tend to be distant in relationships. Observation starting from personal objects tells a lot of trivial but important matters. However, it is an issue people seldom notice of.

It is hoped that student could start studying themselves and discovering the matters they have been ignoring in life starting from personal objects. They could relate themselves to personal objects such as the relations and the memories between them and the objects and later they try out a photographic project on it.


  1. To let student start from personal objects to observe and study themselves and the relationships with others.

Materials / Equipment:

  • Personal objects prepared by students
  • Squared paper (paper used in chinese writing lesson at school)
  • Pen
  • Camera



Workshop Description:

Part One│Owner and object (30 – 45 minutes)

  1. Students bring back their personal objects to class. The object should relate to them personally and they could not reveal to others what they have brought beforehand.
  2. Display all the objects from students.
  3. Make a guess on the owner of the objects. Students could guess based on the object characteristics and the classmates’ reactions. Instructor could provide hints on how to observe the object and relate to the person. For example, stains on the object could reflect how the owners treat the objects and also others.
  4. Every guess needs explanation regardless of right or wrong answer. It is to observe students’ way of seeing and thinking Instructor could analyze what thinking it is. For example, some students analyzed the similarities between the owner and the object while the others tended to rely on intuition.
  5. Last, owner should share the story with of the object. This could encourage the whole class to understand more the interests, background and habits of their classmates

Note 1: The exercise does not emphasize getting the answer right or wrong. It aims to understand the way of thinking of students.
Note 2: Remind student the personal object should relate to themselves personally. It could be something they treasure or a proof of a memory.


Part Two│My object (120 minutes)

  1. Students write a comprehensive writing to describe the relation between themselves and the objects. By writing it down, it is hoped that students could be more detail-minded in their thoughts. They could experience three times of organization, one in their mind, one when they write down their thoughts and one when they read the writing. It is recommended to use squared paper used in Chinese comprehensive writing class because it could encourage them to write a structured and comprehensive story. This could help them organize their own thoughts and facilitate understanding of the instructor.
  2. There would be 10-30 minutes of individual tutorial. During the discussion, instructor would discuss with the student about their relation with the personal object. Based on the discussion, instructor would help to develop a project idea for student. It focuses on how the object reflects connections between people and object. It is mainly in the form of visual diary which encourages students to take photos every day. For example, one student brought a key and the instructor made him take photo of it every day.

Note 1: The role of instructor is to facilitate student to provide ideas for personal project topics and directions. But s/he would not provide guidance on representations of the final work. It is because students need to face their own weaknesses or strengths throughout the process of art making. It is just so human to be weak and imperfect.
Note 2: Since the exercise talks about personal issues which requires mutual understanding and trust, instructor could organize this in the last stage of the course.

Actual Outcome:

Part One | Owner and object

Personal objects student brought back to class included badminton racket, stuffed toy, basketball, T-SHIRT, pencil case, bluetooth speaker, graduation book from primary school, and leaf specimen, etc. Some students relied on intuition. They observed the body reactions of their classmates such as clasping hands or giggling, the function of the object. Others relied on the understanding of the classmates such as the habits and interests.

Part Two | My object

Most of the students were able to observe themselves starting from personal objects while some found it meaningless to put personal stories into their own artwork. They could not understand the importance and value of transforming their observation into creation ideas. Hence, some students were unable to finish the task.

The instructor required students to write and tell the stories about personal objects. Also, he would chat with the students. This enables them to express themselves both verbally and in handwritten text. This allowed a full understanding of the stories. In “Image 1”, student Law Wing Lam shares about the story of two home keys. One the old home while the other is new home. In final artwork, she shares about her thoughts of life at current state.
【Image 1 – 5】

【Image 1】

【Image 2】

【Image 3】

【Image 4】

【Image 5】

Besides Law Wing Lam, several students also brought keys. One of them told us that the key was usually put on a holder at home. Her family would put the key on it every time they returned home. The instructor encouraged her to take photo of the holder every day at certain time and observe the changes. One night, the student was reminded that her mum returned home late because she found that one key was missing from the holder when she took a photo of it.


Wong Uen Lam

Lau Yuk Wun

Lam Yuen Tseng

Hui Tsz Lam

Ma Shan Tsang

Woo Yiu Yan

Reference Materials:

Leung Mee Ping’s work “Daily”

Song Dong’s work “Waste Not

Through Our Eye is now building up personal archive that records students’ family photos, personal objects, information like personal timelines and interests. It is hoped to collect a picture of their age. For details, please visit: