Roach's robots are all the rage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 12:00am

It's difficult to associate Chow Kam-wing, or Cockroach as he prefers to be called, with his first solo exhibition, Cockobot. In person, Cockroach seems quiet and unassuming so all his weird and wacky ideas must be stored in his head.

Cockobot is the new installation exhibition taking place at Agnes B's Librairie Galerie on Elgin Street. When you first enter the gallery, you are greeted by an army of skinny and colourful plastic figures.

Look further and you will see a giant silver robot occupying most of the ground floor. The basement is even more fun. Toys travel along on a gigantic metallic toy train. The gallery has become a playground.

'I want people to have a great time when they come to see my show,' says 31-year-old Cockroach, whose appearance bears no resemblance at all to his namesake. 'I'm sure young people, especially children, will love this show. They will have fun.'

The idea evolved from a series of photos he took two and a half years ago. Cockroach, whose day job is as an advertising creative executive, placed some cardboard robots on street corners and took pictures of them. Friends then suggested he send the pictures to the gallery. After waiting a year and a half for a reply, he finally received a positive response.

'I always wanted to do something more than just advertising,' explains Cockroach, who is also a magazine comics author and the man behind a lot of creative ('silly,' he says) projects.

'Doing my own show means that I can do things without reasons. I don't have to explain to people about the impact of the ideas [as you have to in advertising],' he says.

However, he still loves advertising, an industry he's worked in for seven years. 'It's creative, and I like its effect on people. I love surprising people and seeing their reaction.'

Cockroach, who grew up in Hong Kong and studied graphic design at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, says that he's been practising drawing since his primary school days. Even then he liked robots, but never owned a toy one.

To satisfy his childhood interest, he decided to use robots as the theme for his show. 'I wanted to do something simple, and I think robots can be represented in simple shapes and just using silver. It's quite minimal,' he says.

This is Cockroach's first solo exhibition and, although he's not sure if he will get another show of a similar scale in the future, he says he will nevertheless continue with his after-hours creative work.

Cockobot runs from today until April 18 at Agnes B's Librairie Galerie, 22 Elgin Street, Central. Open daily except for Monday 12 noon - 8.30pm, closed 3.30 - 4.30pm. To inquire call 2869 5505.