Sunday, 12 September 2010

Documenting the Past

Main Post Office, Pedder Street (1973)
Hong Kong changes so quickly, even year by year with new buildings and developments. Tsim Sha Tsui is a case in point. The skyline there has changed so radically in the last few years that I haven't had a chance to wander around to check everything out yet.

And so seeing pictures of Hong Kong many decades ago are even more amazing, as they also document the city's progress.

Jardine House (1975)
Mak Fung (麥烽) was a professional photographer whose career spanned over half a century. At one time he was the executive editor of Photoart and Photo Pictorial in Hong Kong. He died last year at the age of 91 but left behind a treasure trove of images of what he saw of Hong Kong decades ago.

"Hong Kong As It Was" is showing at The Upper Station, a small photographic gallery near where I live in Sheung Wan, just up from Hollywood Road. There is a carefully edited selection of pictures that give a wonderful feeling of what it was like in the city in the 1950s to the 70s.

The skyline was quite easy to see with mostly low-rise buildings, and streets today in Central are barely recognizable with the colonial-style buildings that used to be there. For example, the main post office used to be on Pedder Street before being moved to where it is now. The lanes with wet markets almost look similar in layout, but seething with people, unlike today where they prefer to shop at supermarkets.

Graham Street (1958)
The tram is still around, and there were fewer cars then. Many people he captured did manual labour, like making salt from salt water in Tai O, selling street food or even pulling rickshaws. There was also a photograph of people who live and work on boats in Aberdeen; this breed of people have just about disappeared.

His photographs are nostalgic, but also excellent documentaries of life back then. It is a good reminder for Hong Kong people to remember where they come from -- an industrious lot who were pragmatic and hardworking -- and continue this tradition which makes Hong Kong what it is today.

"Hong Kong As It Was" runs until October 17.

The Upper Station Photo Gallery
No. 22, Upper Station Street
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
3486 2474

1 comment:

  1. nice 'collective memories'. it is nice to keep and refurbished some of the old buildings as living history.