Myanmar pops up here

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am


Ceramic artists Susanna Pang Bik-tsui and Venus Lee Lan-kiu share a passion for handmade crafts, but felt they didn't get the respect they deserved in Hong Kong. With that in mind, they launched the Soil initiative, to promote and showcase traditional arts from around the world.

In January, the duo joined illustrator Benny Lau Siu-tsang and fellow ceramic artist Chris Lo Sze-lim on a trip to Bagan in Myanmar, where they discovered a thriving lacquerware industry.

'The beauty of lacquerware lies in the fact that it cannot be made by machines. It takes quite a long time - at least half a year to nine months - to finish a piece,' says Pang. 'Unlike in Thailand or Vietnam, where arts and crafts are more for tourists these days, lacquerware is still widely used in Myanmese households, and traditional skills are still used to make practical items.'

In Bagan, they discovered the Black Elephant studio, which was set up by British-Ukrainian artist and scholar Veronica Gritsenko in 2000.

Until June 30, Soil is running a pop-up store off St Francis Street in Wan Chai, where it is selling a range of Black Elephant's lacquerware alongside other handmade items from Myanmar such as tote bags, and brass and silver jewellery made by artists and designers based in Hong Kong.

Also at the store is an installation explaining how lacquerware is made: from knitted bamboo strips and horse hair, and layer upon layer of lacquer.

The pop-up store (34 Sau Wa Fong) is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 1.30pm to 6.30pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 7pm. For more information, visit