My Take

Rubber Duckie, we're awfully fond of you

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 2:06am

"Rubber Duckie, you're the one. You make bath time lots of fun, Rubber Duckie, I'm awfully fond of you. Woh woh woh bee doh!"

While we fret about the deadly bird flu from up north, this giant ducky floating in our harbour has brought much-needed lighthearted relief. Our pressure cooker of a city certainly needs more laughter and humour, and less anger and confrontation. So thank you, Florentijn Hofman!

When I first saw Hofman's 16.5-metre-tall rubber duck, somehow I guessed the Dutch artist is a parent. What parents have not entertained their children when they were very young in the bathtub with this classic toy - the cute, yellow and chubby ducky?

And sure enough, Hofman admitted he was inspired by his children's toys.

"Once I had my first child," Hofman said, "I saw their needs from a parent's perspective. It's very important to me."

He thinks his huge installation art objects change the public spaces surrounding them, so people see and interact with those spaces in a different light.

"By placing them in public spaces, they offer a different perspective for the space," Hofman said.

Does this mean he has turned Victoria Harbour into a giant bathtub?

Well, we have always treasured this beautiful harbour of ours. Now, it almost feels intimate - perhaps an infantile response to a toy that almost universally signifies carefree childhood. But don't go skinny-dipping in the harbour just yet!

It's no mean feat readying the duck for Hong Kong. It has 200 components. The bottom of the duck is a floating stage with a diameter of 13.75 metres. Air pumps have to work around the clock to maintain its shape. Three concrete anchors, each weighing three tonnes, are needed to stop the giant duck from floating away in the harbour's rough waters.

The giant duck has been a stunning visual addition to the harbour. May I humbly suggest its tours be accompanied by that immortal tune sung by Ernie from Sesame Street, perhaps played live by the Hong Kong Philharmonic? Sing along, everyone!

"Rubber Duckie, joy of joys. When I squeeze you, you make noise! Rubber Duckie, you're my very best friend, it's true!"