Artist Jeffrey du Vallier d'Aragon Aranita is looking at one of his prints hanging in the narrow passageway of Lan Kwai Fong's Club 64. The scene is of washing drying on a line in the yard of a house in Shanghai. It's dusk and a white shirt is lit with the yellow glow of a street-lamp, making it resemble a Chinese lantern. It must be warm because the window of an upstairs flat is open, allowing the evening breeze to cool the family living there as they sit down to dinner or chat about their day. 'I have this thing about clothes and the essence of family living there,' says the soft-spoken Aranita. Later his words are given added poignancy as he describes a life of great love, loss, ostracism and pain. The words of a man who perhaps secretly covets what many of us take for granted: solace in the bosom of a loving family. Born in 1954 on Moorea Island in French Polynesia to a Japanese-American mother and aristocratic father, Aranita's parents died when he was three years old in what he describes as a 'political incident' in Spain. Ostracised by his grandfather because of his son's decision to marry beneath his station, Aranita was sent to his maternal grandmother - a blind shaman living in a small rice-farming village near Nara, Japan. Unable to cope, his grandmother abandoned him to the care of a Buddhist temple where he learned the art of hanga or woodcut print. Again, his strange non-Japanese appearance left him skirting the boundaries of the tight-knit religious community. In his 20s, having dropped out of college, where he was studying architecture, Aranita became a stringer for the UPI news agency where he made a name for himself photographing the drugs trade in Southeast Asia and South America. Unfortunately it also brought him to the attention of the drug barons and a severe beating left him with, among other permanent injuries, his hushed voice. In 1997, he moved to Hong Kong so his terminally ill wife of 18 years could be near her family. She died in 2000. As Aranita points out, all these experiences colour his work, with each piece reflecting a quest. On Leaving the Shadow World is a series of pictures taken in China between 1997 and 2004. The 13 photographs form a benefit auction supported by Christine Loh's policy think-tank Civic Exchange. Among the prints are a series of 'key' pictures that highlight the handmade signs of China and Hong Kong's small business owners. 'I like things that appeal to me visually and the keys are appropriate because they are created by the anonymous 'artists' that are supporting Civic Exchange, which helps small businesses,' says the former Baptist University art professor. 'It's using art to support a commercial idea. It's saying, 'There's a business here and you can get your key done'.' Aranita says the pictures are air-brushed to help enhance colour and accentuate shadow. 'It's more my idea and what I want to see,' he says unapologetically. The exhibition runs until March 31 and all proceeds of the sale go to supporting future Civic Exchange projects.