32 FOUNDATION STUDIES ALUMNI TRINITY TODAY Running red hot BY MICHELLE FINCKE Socks. Carnations. Coffee spills. Chopsticks by the thousands. It seems anything is an art material in the capable hands and big-picture imagining of ‘Red’ Hong Yi (TCFS 2004). Hailed in 2018 by Sotheby’s Institute of Art as one of the ‘11 world art entrepreneurs you should know’, Red’s work has been commissioned by Google, Gucci and the Mandarin Oriental. For Facebook Singapore, she created a mural with 15 000 charred, layered chopsticks. She’s even built an extraordinary portrait of martial arts superstar Jackie Chan for his Shanghai office. Born into an art-loving family in Sabah, Malaysia, Red (a nickname that became her professional handle) credits her year in the Trinity College Foundation Studies program as integral to her personal and intellectual growth. And, it was lots of fun. ‘Going to Melbourne and catching the train … it felt as though I was growing up!’ she laughs. ‘When I talk about Trinity, I just smile because it was such a great year for me. I was experiencing a totally different education system from the one at home. At Trinity, teachers were super encouraging and really passionate,’ she says. Her Foundation Studies year informed Red’s art, too, with ‘an explosion of ideas’ and a discovery of environmental issues. ‘History of Ideas was a really important subject for debating different topics and helping develop critical thinking,’ says Red. ‘I just wish I was more outspoken in class as we were free to debate issues without feeling there was a right or wrong answer.’ She also made friends for life with her Palmerston House roommates – they chat daily and catch up at least once a year, usually in Singapore, to ‘hang out and talk’. When Red left Melbourne after nine years with a degree in planning and design, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Melbourne, she seemed destined for a desk job. Her early career took her to Shanghai where she worked for the Australian architectural company Hassell. During this time, she expressed herself on weekends, building installations with affordable materials scrounged at markets. With encouragement and support from her employer, it wasn’t long before she made the leap from hobbyist to professional artist. She has since taken on an extraordinary range of work all over the world – a portrait of Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou made from socks; Butterfly Lovers, a colourful seven- metre mural for the Asian Art Museum