The perfect marriage? – Language and art criticism in the Hong Kong public examination context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Art education in Hong Kong has undergone various changes in response to educational reform. In art assessment, a major change in the Hong Kong New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum is the inclusion of art criticism as a compulsory component of the new public examination. Assessing students’ abilities to interpret art in an art criticism public examination context is a critical issue in Hong Kong because the new senior secondary curriculum and assessment has brought attention to the role of written language in the art examination paper. This means the examination assesses not only students’ abilities to interpret art, but also their language abilities required to respond to art in written form. Since this new mode of assessment of art criticism has been published a number of issues have appeared. Recent studies show that teachers and students perceive this development negatively and they believe that the written format will assess students’ written language abilities rather than their critical abilities. These findings challenge the justification of the new art assessment policy and raise questions about the role of written language in responding to art. This article aims to raise the issue of the marriage between language and art criticism in the Hong Kong public examination context. It argues and examines the relationship of language to art interpretation, reasoning in the assessment, and issues in the public art criticism examination context. The issues addressed in this article provide opportunities for researchers and policy makers to reconsider and refine the new form of examination. Copyright © 2017 The Author. Ijade © 2017 NSEAD/John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
JournalInternational Journal of Art and Design Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


art criticism
Hong Kong
written language
art education
Art Criticism
educational reform


Lau, C.-Y., & Tam, C.-O. (2017). The perfect marriage? – Language and art criticism in the Hong Kong public examination context. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 36(1), 61-70.


  • Art assessment
  • Art criticism
  • Art interpretation
  • Language
  • Public examination