Mimi Tung joined The Sovereign Art Foundation in June 2020 as Head of Programme Design and Lead Art Therapist. We caught up with Mimi to learn more about her background and the fascinating field of art therapy.
Mimi qualified as a USA Board Certified Registered Art Therapist specialising in marriage and family therapy. Hugely qualified, she has been practising for ten years and leads the Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists.
English and Cantonese are her mother tongues and she is a fluent Mandarin speaker. After receiving her Masters at Belmont, California she gained experience at Stanford, across China and elsewhere before returning to Hong Kong.
Mimi is passionate about art and culture and keen that they become ever more important in family lives, especially when aimed at children. She compares different levels of exposure to art in cities worldwide – including Hong Kong – with places such as London where the Tate Modern is a shining example of what can be done in this area.
Mimi decided to widen her horizons by joining SAF at a time that coincided with the challenges brought on Covid. She knew of Sovereign through the Art Foundation’s events over the years. She accepted the role because, in her own words, “she was attracted to Sovereign by the passion and experience built by SAF’s team of great people”. Mimi is proud to be part of the wider Sovereign Group. She appreciates the international diversity of the multicultural team who work in offices all over the globe.
As SAF’s Head of Programme Design, she works alongside three colleagues on the Foundation’s “Make It Better” programme. This entails matching donations and other funding with the astonishingly wide range of the Foundation’s good causes. She explains that depending on the projects being managed other part time assistants and freelancers are also brought in to help.
Mimi feels it is critically important for all Group staff to promote SAF’s programme at every opportunity. This may include bringing clients on board who may wish to become associated with SAF community projects locally – a true “win win” proposition, beneficial to all.
Art therapy is perhaps not as well-known still less its inclusion within SAF. To define art therapy, the British Association of Art Therapists says it as “a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is used as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing”. A useful place to start – but Mimi’s enthusiasm brings the subject to life.
Mimi explains that in art therapy there is no “over the counter” answer to clients’ issues – which can be very wide-ranging. Examples include anxiety, depression, grief, eating disorders and relationship difficulties, to name just a few.
Clients often present to Mimi with issues that they cannot verbalise. Mimi encourages them to relate to some kind of art form. From this, she seeks to determine its inner meaning as a first step to helping solve relevant issues. She explains that for those not trained in art, simple drawing or placing of colour can be enough. It is psychoanalysis by another name and much more involved than a lay person may realise. For SAF, being able to provide such therapy is truly ground-breaking. Attracting such a highly qualified individual as Mimi to the Foundation is even more remarkable.
This self-confessed foodie starts her day “with a good breakfast and “proper” coffee”. The proud mother of a 12 year old daughter, she freely admits her age – born, she says, in the Year of the Dragon! A keen board gamer and movie buff, she is a self-confessed “geek” who enjoys problem solving. As elsewhere, Covid has presented enormous challenges. Mimi has worked from home throughout most of the pandemic and hasn’t left Hong Kong since October 2019.
Mimi is excited at the chance to develop her skills in SAF still further. She is passionate about what she does and would dearly like SAF’s art therapy to become much more widely discussed across the wider Sovereign Group. We will watch her progress with great interest.