Growing City, Growing Home
Hong Kong’s past, present and future are the inspiration for this public art exhibition against the backdrop of the Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong Museum of Art that is undergoing transformation.
Three outdoor art installations exploring the concepts of growth and home have been installed at the Art Square at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui. "Million Lights” and “Wall-less World” by Kevin Fung, and "Time Slip" by Stanley Siu invite passersby to stop and ponder the possibilities of growth of this city that is our home.
From the artists’ differing interpretations, they evoke memories of the rapidly changing cityscape and harbourscape while envisioning the future.
An engineer by training, Fung captures the ever-changing yet familiar Hong Kong street scenes in “Million Lights", juxtaposing neon signs, construction cranes and old tenement buildings with monumental tree trunks and tree roots that resemble streets. He presents an instantly recognisable yet artistic vision of what Hong Kong is about, posing the question of transformation and how it relates to every individual.
“I put a tiny man on top of a tree, like I often do in a lot of my works. I want the viewer to think: ‘is it me? How do I feel about this?’ I want to create a neutral work that allows the viewers to think and feel for themselves, through a different perspective,” said Fung.
For “Wall-less World”, Fung built a mini wall-less maze to reveal the unique architecture of Hong Kong’s old walk-up buildings. Within the maze is the iconic Lion Rock. It is a very inviting work of public art, allowing viewers to wander around and within the maze in a relaxed frame of mind to observe, see our city with fresh eyes and explore the fun in life. There is an optimism contained within: If we can break down the walls between us and understand one another’s different perspectives, perhaps our city can become a better place to live?
Old walkups were a big part of Fung’s childhood, and later when he worked as a telecommunications engineer, he often had to go up to rooftops and from there, had a unique view of the city. The maze comprises 38 buildings, all of which have real life counterparts from around Hong Kong, and features elements such as street signs, sliding industrial gates, a group of ducklings in a school, and aeroplanes reminiscent of the old Kai Tak Airport.
“I approached this in a playful, free-flowing and experimental way. It is almost like a kid's drawing of buildings using simple lines. I believe public art should not be too serious and self-centred, but approachable and engaging,” he added.
Born in Hong Kong and educated in New Zealand, Siu said he had missed a lot of Hong Kong’s transformation first-hand. He therefore dived deep into research when he was invited by the Museum of Art to work on this project. His research, including the splendid black and white pictures by legendary photographer Ho Fan, revealed sceneries of old Hong Kong, as well as a different shoreline indicating that there is now a lot of reclaimed land in Tsim Sha Tsui. He decided to use a ship to highlight the idea of change.
He thought the craftsmanship and design of wooden junks were incredible and set out to replicate them. Inspired by the curvilinear form, structural arrangement, and the interior and exterior textures of these unique sailing vessels, Siu’s work captures the silhouette of Chinese junks and presents a negative space between them that people can walk through, in an attempt to merge the vanished imagery of our home in today’s cityscape.
Siu said: “I modelled it after the shape and structure of a real junk. Like two halves of a shipwreck being pulled up from the sea. Although it is not exactly done to scale, I wanted to stay true to the craftsmanship. Each part was handcrafted with precision, and the whole had to be able to withstand outdoor conditions including rain and wind.”
“It is about telling the story of a city, and I hope that parents would also feel inspired to tell their children stories when they see this,” he added. The installation has unwittingly become the backdrop of wedding photos, which would themselves offer countless possibilities for storytelling.
The “Growing City, Growing Home” outdoor art exhibition is open to the public until November this year.