Hong Kong's artists take their hats off to the hawkers of Fa Yuen Street

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am


Sixteen Hong Kong artists will become hawkers for a day tomorrow, setting up their own distinctive stalls among the hawkers on Fa Yuen Street, Mong Kong, to support the colourful street trade.

'Hawkerama' will be more than a gimmick to attract more customers to the area. The artists see the event, from 2pm to 6pm tomorrow, as a contribution to conserving something of the city's past.

'This is Hong Kong heritage,' said architect-turned-artist Kacey Wong, who invited 15 other artists to join him for Hawkerama. 'We are just doing our part in conserving it.'

Wong said the one-off event aimed to celebrate the hawker trade and look at it in a new light.

The artists have designed their own stalls, using creative vision to reinvent and expand on the traditional idea of a stall. They will provide food and drink, offer specially designed goods inspired by the hawking trade, carnival-type games and a photo booth.

Everything will be free for those who can show they have bought something from a local hawker.

'We need to preserve the remnants of heritage that we still have, but also look forward and help the hawker trade evolve into something even better,' said Wong.

Artist Man Chan Ching-man's stall is modelled on an old-school photography studio, where passersby can have their photos taken. 'It would be a shame to let the hawker trade die out,' said Man, 25. 'These stalls provide the public with an alternative to big chain-store goods - they represent freedom of choice.'

Wong's stall will sell juice made from apples and wheatgrass. He has planted the wheatgrass in wooden plant holders that make up the three walls of his stall. Customers will pluck the grass from a plant holder and run it with apple slices through a hand-cranked juicer.

The artists' stalls will be scattered among the rows of hawkers along Fa Yuen Street and Nullah Road in Mong Kok. In December, a blaze in flats above Fa Yuen Street killed nine people and destroyed most of the stalls in the street below.

Wong said he designed his stall with the hawkers' difficulties in mind. His stall fits the legal requirements: 90cm wide and 1.2 metres deep. But, like many stalls, those dimensions are flexible, and will expand temporarily when his plant holders are extended on their runners.

'If the inspection officers come around, I can slide everything back in place, but when they leave, I can pull them out again,' he said. 'This is my response to the harsh regulations hawkers have to live with.'