Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Filipino domestic worker art exhibition in Hong Kong shines light on their creative talent

Domestic workers’ stories often become invisible but hanging their life images on frames will speak more, says one of the artists exhibiting at the Beyond Myself show in Wong Chuk Hang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 6:32pm

An exhibition opening this week in Hong Kong shines a creative light on Filipino domestic workers.

“Beyond Myself”, at The Hive Spring in Wong Chuk Hang from April 26 to May 14, comes to the city after successful events in London and Manila.

The group show “makes domestic workers’ experiences visible by exploring their contributions and sacrifices through language, images and objects produced in their daily lives,” says Zamira Monteiro of Enrich, a Hong Kong charity promoting the economic empowerment of migrant domestic workers.

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She adds that there are 370,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong, 190,000 of which are from the Philippines. “They are an integral part of our lives, caring for our homes, children and elderly.”

“Beyond Myself” features works by award-winning Filipino artist Nathalie Dagmang, rights organisation Voices of Women Media, the Hong Kong-based artist collective for domestic workers Guhit Kulay, and Curating Development, an organisation that uses events and exhibitions to increase migrant welfare.

“We empower migrant domestic workers to invest in themselves through financial and empowerment education,” Monteiro says. “Our workshops equip migrant domestic workers with the tools to save, budget and plan for a future with greater financial security.”

Enrich was founded in 2007 and has worked with more than 20,000 migrant domestic workers through financial and empowerment education programmes and outreach.

Guhit Kulay member Ruby Timtim has been working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper for 18 years.

“This exhibition also shows that workers have a talent to share with our society and we can use it to encourage them to explore that talent,” she says.

Another group member, Cristina Caya, arrived in Hong Kong 20 years ago from the Philippines. “There are so many stories of migrant workers in Hong Kong – we read them often in newspapers – but their stories often become invisible. But hanging our life images on frames will speak more,” she says.

“This [exhibition] is important and will hopefully pinch the hearts of each visitor … hopefully, people will give their helper a pat on the shoulder, a hug or say thank you for taking care of the family.

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“The images reflect the truth of their lives, their dreams and why they have sacrificed so much.”

The event also includes a screening on May 2 of The Helper documentary followed by a panel discussion. More details can be found here.

Beyond Myself, April 26 to May 14, The Hive Spring, 3/F, Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen. 9am-7pm, Mon-Fri and select Sundays.