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Relive the past at the Old House at Wong Uk Village

Wong Uk Village is transformed for a special art exhibition

Being transported back in time at this special exhibition organised by the Art Promotion Office in the New Territories, an artistic endeavour to breathe nature into antiquity can be viewed at Wong Uk Village, near Sha Tin, until June 30.

Built in the 19th century, this village was once a transport hub for traders to move goods between Guangdong and Hong Kong. To make way for Sha Tin New Town, many old buildings in the village had to be abolished, although one house was spared. Known as Old House at Wong Uk Village, it has since remained in place for more than 200 years. Devoting to work on this daring project as part of 'Hi! Houses', artist Lam Tung-pang puts his own imaginative spin on the house and educates the public on its history. A local resident of the Sha Tin area for more than 30 years, his inspiration stems from his ancestral home in Fujian, China.

Roomy, tranquil and brightly lit by natural light, this fascinating exhibition is a must-see. “I wanted the home to have a connection to the outside world,” he says, “ a connection to nature”. Indeed, the Old House was originally designed to sustain adverse weather in nature, for example, holes on the roof help drain water during heavy rain. Encompassing many different ideas, Lam wants visitors to experience the feeling of ‘home’ that the Old House gives him when they view the exhibition. “The whole house comes together to tell a story,” says Lam. He speaks of the elusive element of stillness that fills each room. “The city is so noisy,”he says, “and there are people walking around everywhere. But when I step into this house, I feel a sense of peace.”

Collecting used furniture from people moving out, Lam says that each piece of old furniture there represents a story in itself. “I wanted to express myself by transforming everything into a brand new format,” he says. “I imagined my studio in Fo Tan similar to the Old House and put furniture in the space to get an idea of how to arrange the furniture in the Old House.” Getting passionate about the rebirth of the old, Lam tells us he adorned the house with different types of rare plants and flowers.

Traditional decorations and appealing murals are found throughout the house. A strikingly large painting of a blue magpie is also to be seen here. “When I was a child,” says Lam, “I saw this bird fly into my ancestral house and then quickly fly away. Then, during the setup of this art exhibition, I saw the exact same bird!” Spending more than a year putting together this elaborate exhibition, the artist wants visitors to understand Old House’s rich history. He also encourages more visits to Wong Uk Village. “I hope people will visit more often,” he says, “and bring home a specific memory of this house because, once this project is finished, it will become completely empty again.”

Until Jun 30. Wong Uk Village, Yuen Chau Kok; lcsd.gov.hk. Mon & Wed-Sun 9pm-1pm, 2pm-5pm.

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