French sculptor Paulo Grangeon brings his 1,600 pandas to Hong Kong

Sculptor brings 1,600 papier mâché pandas with a conservation message

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 June, 2014, 5:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 June, 2014, 5:23am

First there was one giant rubber duck; now Hong Kong is to host 1,600 little papier mâché pandas.

The flash mob of pandas will be unveiled at Hong Kong airport tomorrow. They will later visit Tsim Sha Tsui, before following in the duck's footsteps for a tour of Victoria Harbour - aboard a Star Ferry. Pop-up pandas can also be expected at other locations around town.

From June 24, they will take up a month-long residence at PMQ in Aberdeen Street, Central - the newly renovated former police married quarters.

They are the creation of French sculptor Paulo Grangeon. And like Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck, which won the hearts of Hongkongers last summer, they bring with them a message.

For the duck, it was harmony without borders; for the pandas it is to remind people about the importance of wildlife conservation; there are only about 1,600 pandas left in the world.

"If all humans die, all animals will survive with the earth. But if all animals die, the earth and humans will disappear," said Grangeon.

His exhibition, 1600 Pandas, has already toured Europe and Taiwan. The Hong Kong show, a fundraising project for WWF, is organised by AllRightsReserved, the same team that brought the duck to Victoria Harbour.

Grangeon said he was asked to create the panda sculptures in 2008 by Serge Orru, then director of WWF in France. "As a sculptor, I made art and showed it to only 100 people at a gallery. But now, these pandas have inspired many to help the environment," the 62-year-old said.

His panda sculptures are made in a Thai village. Grangeon said each exhibition required new pandas to be made and so far more than 10,000 had been created.

He said they were made with recycled paper, rice and environmentally friendly paint. "I won't make plastic pandas," he added.

Grangeon has also made 120 papier mâché whales for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and 200 papier mâché black bears for Taiwan.