Saturday, 17 March 2018

A Secret Garden in Hong Kong

Visitors are given a key... to go where?
At 5pm I made my way up to the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre for an intriguing art installation that is headed by local artist Kingsley Ng. He always has interesting projects with lots of meaning and significance behind them and are usually executed well, which is why I was keen to check it out.

This latest one is called Secret Garden and it is loosely based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett and the wildly popular colouring book by Johanna Basford, and is site specific, as the building used to be the former Victoria Barracks for the families of British soldiers to live in.

The exterior of the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre
The building underwent renovations in the 1970s to become a government-run place for art classes, and the families that lived here were either moved to Tamar or left Hong Kong. So Secret Garden has a fictional story of three children who discovered a secret garden here and when they had to leave, they promised to come back on the last night.

But what does the last night mean? Ng says it could be June 30, 1997 when the British handed back Hong Kong to China, or it could mean the day the families had to move. The interpretation is open to the visitor, who is led on a 40-minute guided tour through the building to see different aspects of this secret garden.

Ng explained afterwards that he coordinated the project, giving the secret garden theme to several groups of artists who interpreted it in their own way, from books with empty pages, to ceramics to items from our childhood.

Ceramic balls are placed on spotlights with dramatic effect
I don't want to give too much away in terms of what exactly you see in the installation, but it's the various things you see, touch and hear that build up multiple meanings or like a patchwork quilt, create loose connections.

When we visited for the preview it wasn't quite dark, so it'll be better when it starts in earnest tomorrow when it's shown at night.

The first batch of free tickets were snapped up right away, but Ng told me the second batch will be released on Monday March 19 at noon. Check it out at

Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre
7A, Kennedy Road
Hong Kong
(In Hong Kong Park)

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