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The recent lockdown offered me a golden opportunity to do some long-overdue work on my archives. That, followed by the recent protests over the new security law in Hong Kong, made me want to dig deeper into my Hong Kong archives.

Hong Kong is where I spent some of my most creative years during the 1980s.

I was constantly inspired by the 24/7 intensity of the place, its contrasts and contradictions:
- That night-long buzz on the streets against a backdrop of fluorescent neons followed by brief moments of early morning calm.
- The omnipresent frenetic reconstruction against the relative peace of traditional temples.
- Not forgetting, the bling boutiques in front of which the homeless would spend the night.

HK was, and is one of the most densely crowded places on this planet. Only some years after leaving Asia did I realise that subconsciously, I often sought out to photograph the individual, away from the maddening crowd …

While in Hong Kong, I was a member of the Aux Yeux Photography collective. This selection, “15 minutes from home” was part of a group project, where each of us photographed their immediate neighbourhood. Mine was Sheung Wan and I loved my neighbourhood.

Although just 15 minutes on foot or one MTR (metro) stop to HK’s Central business district, tourists & HK-resident “gwailos” (foreign devils) were rare. Sheung Wan retained a distinctly Southern Chinese feel. On its streets and rooftops, local residents dried vegetables for winter, seafood, snake and other medicinal delicacies, in fact they used every available space. As the heart of the wholesale Chinese herbal medicine trade in Hong Kong, a particular aroma wafted in the air, one of medical teas and preparations mixed with joss sticks from the local joss and paper offerings shops. The wine shop on my street corner specialised in snake wine. Old ladies would perform “cursing rituals” during the annual Festival of Excited Insects at the Pak Shing Temple down the road .

Here is a selection from “15 minutes from Home”, which I scanned from the original colour slides which date back to the period 1988-1990. Some of my best shots are still tucked away somewhere in my archives!

Dedicated to the youth in Hong Kong today.
1. 15 minutes, original title2. Snake skin circles3. View of Chinese herbal medicine drying, from my rooftop4.Walk on by5. Green veggies dring on Queen's Rd West6.Dried fish in couples : Sheung Wan7. Hopelessness8. Laundry for the street sleepers9. Dried out10. Hong Kong moment11. Tung Wah Hospital expansion12. New street, market, from my rooftop13. Demolition Time- from my rooftop14. Street Scene15. Mao gets gold16. Sheung Wan, excited insects17. Tram Traffic Controller18. Trash Duckie19. Contemplation20. Ecological car on my street - New Street, Sheung Wan.

Categories & Keywords
Category:City Scenes
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:1980s Hong Kong, Chinese, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Chinese cursing ritual, Chinese medicine, Festival of the Excited Insects, Hong Kong, Hong Kong archives, Hong Kong rooftops, Pak Shing temple & ancestral home, Sheung Wan, Snakes drying, demolition, grail, reconstruction, saltfish, snake, snake wine, snakeskin, wine