As part of the ‘Hi! Houses’ art project organised by the Art Promotion Office, one of Hong Kong’s last standing traditional Hakka houses, Law Uk Folk museum is transformed for a special exhibition in order to let people to have a better understanding of Hakka culture with the help from local ceramic artist Fiona Wong. Located near Chai Wan, viewers can visit the exhibition until June 30.
Since Hakka people are the first settlers in Chai Wan, the Law Uk village is one of the earliest accommodation for Hakka people. With 200 years of history, it is the only remaining village in Hong Kong island area. Unlike Murray House, Law Uk village is the lone historical monument that remained in its original place. During her visits, Wong discovered an array of objects that held historical value. After speaking with Wong Hung-keung, an expert in Hakka house restoration, she was immediately inspired to create works that incorporate the Hakka culture with different perspectives. For this exhibition, Wong elevates the original traditional furniture at Law Uk with her new ceramic artworks while presenting them in a modern context to recount the stories of the Law Uk inhabitants.
The museum is decked out with vintage decorations, production tools and ceramics artworks, which Wong wishes to help people experience the changes from the past. “I would like visitors to imagine and interact with the Hakka culture,” says Wong. “People can also have a chance to emotionally connect when they concentrate on these decorations in the Law Uk house.” Traditional Hakka objects including women worker clothes, accessories and old working tools add a personal layer to the exhibition, allowing visitors to feel and explore for themselves. At the same time, Wong’s ceramics grab people’s attention because the way it seamlessly blends contemporary art with historical monuments, for example, how a salt-roasted pig ceramic was originally inspired from the Hakka salt-baked chicken. “I want visitors to be able to play between history and art in a new perspective,” says Wong, “and to connect with the historical old house.”
Additionally, Hakka women play a significant role in the exhibition. In traditional Chinese culture, men were the ones who worked while the women stayed at home and raised children. But through her research, Wong has found that Hakka women were responsible for heavy-duty work, much like the men did. Inspired by the strength of these women, Wong etched Hakka song lyrics on porcelain tiles and placed them under the spotlights in different rooms. She has also written new folk songs in dedication on Hakka women. Ultimately, Wong believes the most important thing to take away from the exhibition is to promote Hakka culture in Hong Kong. Hakka people are with agile and indomitable spirit, so it is good for us to learn how to look forward to the future instead of recalling the past.
Until Jun 30. Law Uk Folk Museum, 14 Kut Shing St, Chai Wan; lcsd.gov.hk. Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 10am-6pm.