King of Kowloon's graffiti art waits for salvation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 3:47am

The Urban Renewal Authority has vowed to preserve what is one of the last street graffiti by the King of Kowloon before it can find it a proper home, which won't be until the end of this year.

But the arts community is worried that the decaying ink calligraphy by the late Tsang Tsou-choi, painted on some doors at the defunct Silver Theatre in Kwun Tong, might not be able to survive that long.

The South China Morning Post reported the issue in September but no progress has been made. Artist Pak Sheung-chuen was worried that the preservation efforts may be too late.

"People are already scribbling around the metal doors," Pak said. "If [the authorities] really want to preserve this work, why can't they do it earlier? Many [of Tsang's works] have already vanished from the streets."

The city was once blanketed with Tsang's graffiti but they have been painted over by authorities over the years although the works have won praise from around the world.

The Kwun Tong doors were among four of Tsang's surviving street works. The others are a pillar at Tsim Sha Tsui's Star Ferry pier, a lamp post in Ping Shek estate and a wall near Baptist University's Academy of Visual Arts.

An Urban Renewal Authority spokesman said the authority will "keep it safe" before finding the doors a good home.

"We are not the best organisations to keep it. We will ask around public institutions and seek their proposals for what they wanted to do with the doors," said the spokesman.

"This is a public asset and we want to find a proposal of good intention that will give the works a good display."

However, the authority has yet to get an institution to commit to preserving the gates.

Asked why the doors couldn't be removed now, the spokesman said there is a complex electricity storage box behind them. If they were removed without proper planning, it could affect the electricity supply in the area.

He said the redevelopment work should begin by the end of this year and, until then, nothing has been planned for the artefact.

Tsang's works have been auctioned for up to HK$800,000.