Hong Kong architect and hobby potter’s teaware inspired by banyan trees

Calvin Chan felt moved to preserve images of city’s ‘stone-wall trees’ on cups and saucers after outcry over felling of four urban banyans last year. His work features in new show of art by some 90 architects

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 10:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 10:05am

For his job as an architect, Calvin Chan Ming-tsun makes drawings for buildings that are boxy and rectangular. For a hobby, he makes pottery based on the shapes and pattern of plants.

“For my drawings at work, everything is fair and square. But the organic state of plants lets me create artistic works in a way that is not allowed on my job,” he says.

Having been a potter for three years, he collaborated with a tea brand last year to produce teaware for sale online.

His latest work includes cups and saucers whose designs were inspired by banyan trees. Chan was prompted to create them by the felling of four 100-year-old trees in Bonham Road, Sai Ying Pun, last year. The felling of the trees – called stone-wall trees for their mass of stumpy roots clinging to stone walls – led to a public outcry.

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“Those trees, when they were alive, were just there and didn’t attract people’s attention. People only felt a sense of loss when they were gone. So the incident made me want to record the remaining stone-wall trees in the city. When making a record of things, people usually resort to photography or writing. But making a pottery work can show a three-dimensional view of the texture and grain of wood,” Chan says.

He is one of around 90 architects from Hong Kong who have come together for a joint exhibition organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. The exhibition, “For the City For the Community”, features photography, installation art and other artistic mediums. Musical performances, arts workshops and forums with be held to coincide with the show.

Reveal 2 Exhibition – For the City. For the Community, Artis Tree, 1/F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, 10 September to 7 October, 11am to 8pm