Rubber Duck

Rubber Duck floats Hong Kong's boats as thousands watch arrival

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 May, 2013, 11:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Yesterday was the coldest day in May in almost a century. But the sun came out and warmed up the city when the gigantic Rubber Duck finally graced Victoria Harbour, melting the hearts of more than a thousand spectators waiting in the cold all morning.

"I think, after today, Victoria Harbour has changed," Rubber Duck's "papa", Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman said after his "baby" made it to Ocean Terminal, overcoming the rough wind and waves.

"The duck is a catalyst of joy," he said.

Video: Interview with Florentijn Hofman as Rubber Duck sails into Victoria Harbour


Organisers originally planned for the duck to sail from the direction of the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower. But because of the rough waves and strong winds, the duck had to enter from the other end via the back of the Pacific Club.

Two police marine vessels acted as guardian for the giant yellow toy making a splash in Victoria Harbour. As the duck emerged from behind a cruise ship docking at Ocean Terminal, the excited crowd roared: "It's here!"

Thirteen-year-old Angeline Lau Hiu-ling said the duck brought back memories.

"I had this duck bathing with me when I was a child. I'm very excited.

"It is very cute," said Lau, a Form One student.

Some jokingly said that Rubber Duck might need some lip balm as creases were spotted on his orange lips.

The Observatory recorded 16.6 degrees Celsius yesterday morning - the coldest day in May since 1917's 15.4 degrees. But that did not stop more than 100 journalists and the crowd braving the wind by the waterfront.

On the public's overwhelming response, Hofman said: "It means public art means a lot [to people]. The water in the world is a global bath tub. You and me are taking the same bath."

Polytechnic University's applied social science professor Denny Ho Kwok-leung said that the duck had been well received in Hong Kong not only because it was a big surprise with a pretty face, but also because it was "safe" - as compared to the suckling pig and the excrement pile inflatable sculptures also showing at "Mobile M+: Inflation!" in West Kowloon Cultural District.

"An enlarged suckling pig [Cao Fei's House of Treasure] that normally appears in a wedding banquet can be read as a sarcastic work.

"And that pile [Paul McCarthy's Complex Pile] resembles too much the reality. One can't fall in love with it," Ho said.

"But the duck is simply the realisation of a child's fantasy in an adult world. It is a safe piece to like."

Rubber Duck will float outside Ocean Terminal until June 9. Hofman said that if the weather goes bad, the duck will be deflated to "fall asleep".