Jackie Chan

Photo Essay

Handcrafted Mahjong

  by Henry Wong Ho Sau-mei polishes and refines her newly made piles of mahjong with the custom-made tools in her tiny shop in Hung Hom. "The society might not need this handcrafting skill anymore, so it is inevitable that it will be lost to technological advancement," Ho said. Ho Sau-Mei is in her 50s. She is the only mahjong crafter in Hong Kong and still works in the shop which her father started in 1962. Handcrafted mahjong has been listed by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee as an intangible cultural heritage in Hong Kong. Yet, Ho might close her shop when she retires. "I am tired and my eyes are not as good as they used to be. I would say I do this as a hobby, not for money," said Ms. Ho. Making handcrafted mahjong is time consuming. Ho needs at least a week to craft, paint and clean a complete the set of 144 mahjong tiles. "Even my son refuses to carry on the heritage. I see no future for this industry because you would not be able to earn a living with the skill," Ho said. "I seldom play mahjong. I just enjoy the process of crafting the tiles," Ho said. (Edited by Phoebe Chau)

Culture & Leisure

Community Art Revitalises Connectedness

  by Terrance Zheng On the night of November 22, after winding up a 10-day exhibition, a group of people gathered in a studio in old Shanghai Street. They include artists, volunteers and neighbours who were reminiscing about Woofer Ten, the workshop that would no longer be theirs. Wong Yin-mong, a neighbour working next to Woofer Ten, said she was astounded when she was told of their coming removal. "The products they make are very interesting. Some show the original image of the community, which is unknown to most young people today." Community art is a revival and representation of a community's culture and history. It embodies communal lifestyles and beliefs, and helps to distinguish among different communities, says Mr Lui Yat-nan, a key member of Woofer Ten. Unlike other art forms, community art should be deeply rooted in the community, says Dr Leung Mee-ping, an associate professor of visual arts at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and an expert in community art. "Artists' group should establish long-term relationships with community residents, and that's what Woofer Ten tried doing", Dr Leung says. Starting in 2009, Woofer Ten twice bid for and was awarded the running of the community art project at 404 Shanghai Street. But the Hong Kong Arts Development Council decided to cut the funding and in July 2013 instead accepted the bid from the Centre for Community Cultural Development. Dr Leung says community art studios need to enact communal identity and connectedness if they want to thrive in the neighborhood. "No artists' group wants to rely on government sponsorship for the long run, but it's quite impossible for them to self-sponsor given Hong Kong's soaring rents," he says. Mr Lui, of Woofer Ten, says the hegemony of developers is hindering the development of community art in Hong Kong. Businesses would rather let art groups do exhibitions in their stores than sponsor low-rent areas for community art projects. Dr Chew Ming-tek, associate professor of sociology at HKBU says Hong Kong people "are so short-sighted" that capitalists businesses and the government were not willing to pay for something that is seemingly not financially sustainable or for …

Photo Essay

Final days of the fabric bazaar

  by Flavia Wong Chan Yu-tung, also known as "Uncle Tung", 82, is the oldest hawker in the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar in Sham Shui Po, where he has worked for decades. He still enjoys his work in the market, although he says the environment is not ideal – the small fabric market was built with plastic and iron sheets and is packed with fabric bolts. But that all may soon come to an end if the government gets its way. In August, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department sent letters to hawkers saying it was planning to resume the land for building 200 units under the Home Ownership Scheme, according to a report by local media Apple Daily. Hawkers with a license may have the choice of compensation of $80,000, lower than the normal $120,000, if they return the licenses back to the government, or they will be offered a stall in other markets. Yet, among the 190 tenants, only 21 of them actually have government licenses, according to Cable TV's report. These hawkers will receive no compensation. Tung has no license. "The government has not talked to us, the tenants, yet. We have no idea how they would settle us, or if they would compensate us," he said. He added that he will miss the market if it is closed. Since the 1970s, the fabric market has been the paradise of fashion students. They have also expressed their reluctance to part with the market. Some university graduates even take photos in the market in their graduation gown. "We can find varieties of fabrics here and they are very cheap. Hawkers are also very nice to us. It actually nurtures many students," said Chee Ka-po, a graduate of Bachelor of Fashion and Textile Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. …

Culture & Leisure

Is Hong Kong ready for street art?

  by Herbert Cheung Salmon swimming upstream, snowboarding and rock climbing: just some of the paintings you see on staircases in Tsuen Wan town centre. But are people in Hong Kong ready to welcome community arts with open arms? "In Hong Kong, more people are interested in popular culture than in crafts, such as tea making, ceramic and handicrafts," said Lam Yuk-fai, leader of the artist group, Omni Art. Their members have been painting the murals around Tsuen Wan. "Most of the shops are monopolised by tycoons, leaving no room to promote arts and culture. It is hard for artists to blossom here," he said. Mr Lam thinks Hong Kong does not provide a fostering environment for art, compared with Taiwan and mainland China. Mr Lam believes community art is a great stepping stone to promote art in Hong Kong. But it takes a time for people to develop an interest. His group has been working with the Home Affairs Bureau, but Mr Lam there is not enough government support. He believes Hong Kong has the potential for further art development because it is the world's fourth largest art auction market. According to the Contemporary Art Market Report 2015 published by Artprice, more than $146 million dollars' worth of contemporary art was auctioned off between July 2014 and June 2015. Denise Yeung Tsz-ching, one of the five artists of Omni Art, said residents in Tsuen Wan used to call the police when the artists were working on the stairs because they thought they were vandalising. "We didn't put up any signs stating that the activity was sponsored and approved by the District Council. So there was some misunderstanding," said the 20-year-old artist. "The visibility of the murals allow people to appreciate and participate in art as they walk on the stairs or stop to take photos", Ms Yeung said. Lo Siu-kit, a Tsuen Wan district councillor, thinks murals on stairs are ‘interesting', even though painting the three stairs cost $100,000, according to the council's meeting document. "These may be small changes, but people feel different about the stairs," …

Culture & Leisure

[Video] Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance as a Mid-Autumn blessing for peace

By ShanShan Kao   Fire and smoke mix with festival atmosphere through the backstreets of Tai Hang, locals dancing a "fire dragon" accompanied with firecrackers and drum beats. It all started from a tale around 100 years ago in a Hakka fisherman village, Tai Hang, where a mysterious python brought a plague into the village. To ward off the disease, villagers made a huge dragon with straw and covered it with lit incense sticks and danced for three days and nights on the evening of the 14th, 15th and 16th of the eighth lunar month. The ritual keeps until today with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks and a 67-metre dragon, with its head alone weighs 48kg. Mr Vicky Wong, the dragon head leader said the most difficult part is that the fire dragon head is heavy. "You have to pass it to another person after holding it for a while." He said. "We do this to inherit and pass on the cultural heritage of China. I've been dancing the fire dragon fot many years." He added. This tradition has become part of China's official intangible cultural heritage since 2009.  

Culture & Leisure

[Video] Chinese Ghost Festival for Traditional Chiu Chow Community

By Sharon Tang   People celebrate Halloween, the Western "ghost festival", by putting up costumes and be a part of the crowd. Funny as it is, the Chinese ghost festival is treated with more restraints as some may see it as a taboo and wish not to talk about ghosts. This year's Yulan Festival of the Chiu Chow Community was held in Tai Kok Tsui, from Aug 23-25. Tracing back to 46 years ago, the Chiu Chow people has already started the "Yulan Festival". In the festival, descendants burn joss sticks to worship gods, burn paper money to their ancestors. Lots people, regardless their origins, also burn paper money for "street ghosts". This is to show their respects to the ghosts so that they could keep themselves safe. More interesting is, there is a special Chinese opera performance as a way to entertain the "ghosts". According to the Chinese tradition and the Lunar calendar, July is the month when the "ghost door" opens, which means the ghosts are allowed to come out to the human grounds. Never should you think this event is dark and depressing. In fact, it is meaningful and joyful where different Chiu Chow families gather and chat about their lives. It is also a significant symbol showing how united the Chiu Chow people are. "Standing in the shoes of us Chiu Chow people, we unite in such a event," said Mr Lum Wing-fat, a member of the Yulan Festival of the Chiu Chow Community Committee. "Sometimes we meet each other in the neighbourhood and forgot their names, or even do not know them." "But when all of us gather here, we get along and work together closely." He said. In the old days when lives were poor and people had few to eat, the Yulan Festival has …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong Tied Football World Cup Qualifiers Against China and It Means More Than Sports

  By Harry Ng   Hong Kong football fans rejoiced as China held to a goalless draw amid racism row on September 3 when China also hosted a military parade. Hong Kong stunned China by producing two goal-line clearances in a match which China produced 41 attempts, hitting the woodwork four times at Bao'an Stadium in Shenzhen just across the border. Hong Kong fans, who booed the national anthem in the previous two World Cup qualifiers, behaved in the away game. On the same day, China also held a military parade in its capital Beijing, showcasing its military might. Mr Tommy Deng Hanyu, a student from Shandong currently studying at Hong Kong Baptist University, said the parade was the real highlight of the day. "The military parade is a symbol of national pride. It shows to the world that China has become one of the strongest powers,'' he said. He said anti-mainland sentiments may have highlighted the match. However, Hong Kong fan Mr Anthony Liu Chap-yin thought the football match between Hong Kong and China was far more important than the parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of defeat of Japan. "Hong Kongers support the Hong Kong team,'' he said. "The match is between Hong Kong and China. On the other hand, the parade is all about China showcasing its military strength.'' The China Football Association earlier warned mainland fans "not to underestimate the black-skinned, yellow-skinned, and white-skinned players" in the Hong Kong team in a poster that triggered racism row. In the match, Hong Kong's starting line up included the following naturalised players: Festus Baise, Godfred Karikari, Jack Sealy, Jaimes McKee and two mainland-born Chinese players. Ivan Tsang Hin-lok, 19, who represented Shatin district football team in the 5th Hong Kong Games, said it was a common practice to use naturalised …

Culture & Leisure

More than skin-deep

For some, tattoos are a sign of rebellion or simply just a fashion piece. But a growing number of people regard them as art, a secret language shared by a self-chosen community   Chinese convention has long associated tattoos with gangsters, violating the societal virtue of preserving our bodies out of respect to our parents. But in Hong Kong, tattoos are being redefined as works of art as the city explodes with tattoo shops whose clientele are increasingly young Hong Kongers. "It is a culture of a long history and a medium of expression," said Mr Vince Yue Chun-kit, a tattoo artist and founder of The Company Tattoo, a tattoo parlour. People are more accepting of tattoos as more celebrities publicly show them off, he said. "David Beckham had a Chinese calligraphy tattoo done in Hong Kong, and it certainly has a huge effect on public impression towards tattooing," Mr Yue said. "Local artist Louis Cheung Kai- chung ... showed his tattoo on television. People still love him, don't they?" said Mr James Lau Chi-long, another tattooist at The Company Tattoo. "The young generation is no longer wary of it." Ms Mindy Mak Ching-yi, a 21-year- old frequent traveler, gets herself inked every time she travels. None of her friends criticize her tattoos, but she said the older generation may feel otherwise. "My parents do not know about my tattoos. I think they will be mad if they find out about it," she said. The first tattoo convention in Hong Kong was held in 2013, where artists from different countries showcased their work and made tattoos on the spot for interested visitors. The tattoos were evaluated by judges of the convention and the best artist was awarded. Co-organizer of the International Hong Kong Tattoo Convention Mr Jay Foss Cole said in …

Culture & Leisure

Artists let the pictures speak for the past

With just a click, photographers can freeze a moment of history. But before 1960, that moment was probably in black-and-white. Colour film didn't become the norm until the 60s and 70s when prices came down and amateurs could afford it. But with today's technology, colourising pictures can be done with a few clicks on a computer and those frozen black-and-white moments gain new life. Mr Victor Liu Ka-chung, a university student who is passionate about colourising Hong Kong historical black-and- white photos, says "colour brings new life and perspective to the photos." By adding colours to the images, Mr Liu rediscovers Hong Kong's yesteryears. He hopes his work will draw public attention to protecting historical elements in the city. Ms Tiffany Chan chooses to preserve historical moments by drawing. The idea is simple: to record faces and the human stories behind them. With paper and pencils, the illustrator sketches major historical events in Hong Kong, such as the Umbrella Movement. The free-of-charge service takes 10 minutes to produce a portrait. While having their portraits painted, people tell their personal stories to Ms Chan. Unlike photography, drawing doesn't freeze the moment. It gives time to let the stories flow, she says. "A 70-year-old lady told me that she has been staying overnight for the pro- test," Ms Chan said. The personal sto- ries move the pencil as they touches her heart, she said. The artist seals emotions, stories, expressions and people in the im- ages on the papers. However, spending 10 minutes to record one person in history is impractical, says Mr Ryan Chan, a photographer. He spends his time capturing complex ideas and emotions with the speed of light on film. "Photographing with film allows me to think," Mr Chan said. With limited frames, he has to spend time observing the …

Culture & Leisure

Caged to be freed

The practice of freeing captive animals might kill more animals and harm the environment