- Chasing The Ghost of Suzie Wong
The image of Suzie Wong on the Star Ferry in her elegant cheongsam is one of the most iconic images of mid-twentieth century Hong Kong. It is also one of the most troubling. For everything about Suzie and her “world” is false, conjured up by Richard Mason, a British RAF intelligence officer turned writer, living in Hong Kong in the 1950s. And yet the book that was written (and the movie made) about her refuses to leave us. She’s stuck somehow in our collective consciousness as the 2.5 Million Google hits would attest. Is Suzie an empowered young woman or a hapless victim? Is she an example of plucky Cold War Hong Kong or a shameful reminder of the poverty and turmoil of its past. The debate, I’m sure, will rage on (and on) but in the meantime, I think it’s helpful to visit the places that evoke Suzie. The Fenwick Pier, Spring Garden Lane / 春園街, Luk Kwok Hotel 六國飯店 and other locations in and around Wan Chai. These places and the stories about them can help us to dissect the myth and come to terms with why Suzie is still with us today. Perhaps in walking the same Wan Chai streets, we’ll find what it is about her and her story that we love or love to hate so much. Homework: Yes, that’s right, homework. I really feel that if you don’t AT LEAST watch the original movie “The World of Suzie Wong” you’re not going to get the most out of this event. There are many ways both legal and illegal to watch the film. I’ll leave it to you. However, I'll include a link to amazon.com’s streaming service where you can watch it for a couple of bucks. While you’re there you can read the book on the Kindle platform. Once you’re done with that you can check out fellow Hong Kong Sacred Spaces member Sheridan Prasso’s “Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient” An excellent primer of this sprawling topic. I also strongly recommend the autobiographical documentary “To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen’s Journey”. A film highlighting Nancy Kwan’s important role in Chinese and Asian American Cinema. For a more local perspective on Suzie Wong, I can recommend the hard to find “My Name Ain’t Suzie 花街時代 ” (trailer here: https://youtu.be/pUPYuC_nCIg) directed by Angela Chan 陳安琪. Intense, a little sad but a nice comparison to WSW. Movie still from the 1960 film starring Nancy Kwan as Suzie and William Holden as Lomax.
- Annual Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance Festival
Sacred Spaces will attend yet another Tai Hang Fire Dragon Festival. According to the Tai Hong Dragon Festival Website (http://www.taihangfiredragon.hk): "When the people of Tai Hang village miraculously stopped a plague with a fire dragon dance in the 19th century, they inadvertently launched a tradition that has since become part of China's official intangible cultural heritage. Tai Hang may no longer be a village, but its locals still recreate the fiery ancient ritual today with a whopping 300 performers, 72,000 incense sticks, and a 67-meter dragon. The head of this beast alone weighs 48kg, so it’s not a creature to be taken lightly! The commemorative performance wends its way in fire, smoke and festive fury through the back streets of Tai Hang over three moon-fuelled days. 大 坑 火 龍一連三天，近300人舞動著長達67公尺、插上逾萬枝線香的火龍飛舞，煞是壯觀！意想不到的是，這項有逾百年歷史的舞火龍習俗，就在銅鑼灣繁華的購物區附近展開！一片鑼鼓聲中，火龍穿梭大坑一帶的大街小巷，頓時煙香繚繞、火光閃爍，充滿生氣！ 這道香港獨有的美麗風景，源於19世紀居民為求消除瘟疫而起，如今更成為國家級非物質文化遺產。" ...and there are some pictures from our group last year ...and check out my video from a few years back. You can see how the dragon totally snuck up on me "ninja" style! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LeYnEOw9eI Below you'll see three basic categories of participation. Kindly think about what category you'd most likely join so I can organize you properly to maximize your fun potential. The number of hours indicates a rough estimate of how long you should expect to be in place once you're situated. It will very difficult, if not impossible, to move around once the Police lock their cordons off to let the Dragon roam free. Foresight, in this case, will make all the difference... • Casual Observer (1-2 hrs) • Interested (2-3 hrs) • Shutterbug (3 hrs plus) I'll get everyone situation in a location based on the above categories. I'm sure we'll lose track of each other quickly but that's okay because it's going to be a lot of fun. My main job will be getting you all there and situated so you'll have the best view. Don't worry, once we get there you can sit back and enjoy the evening. You'll also notice that this event will attract huge numbers. Don't be concerned as for this event the more the merrier.
- Join Ruby Yang and Alfred Sung for a talk about their film "The Last Stitch"
Most cities are filled with alternative venues to experience art and culture. Hong Kong is no different. What's unique here is that the usual installation art exhibits, indie rock bands, and independent documentaries are not shown in the dingy basements of dilapidated factory buildings but in sleek highrises, fancy hotels, and chic restaurants. Oh well, welcome to Hong Kong! Duddell's definitely falls in the latter category sitting on the 3rd level of Shanghai Tang's above Duddell Street in some of the choicest parts of Central. It's a great venue for a discussion about the soon to be released documentary "The Last Stitch" a paean to the dying qipao/cheongsam/長衫 makers of Shanghai. Anyone with an interest in this classic garment would be wise to watch this impressive film and listen to the filmmakers as they talk about their work. From the organizer's writeup. "Born in a Shanghainese tailoring family, who emigrated first to Hong Kong, then Toronto, Alfred Sung has been enthusiastically unveiling his family’s intergenerational traditions since 2005. It started as a comic book series in[masked], then in 2009, was transformed into an exhibition. Alfred met Oscar-winning documentarian Ruby Yang in 2014, at a film workshop. With her encouragement and resources from the Hong Kong Documentary Initiative (HKDI), Alfred made his first documentary, The Last Stitch, detailing his family’s business story, with Ruby as his producer. In their talk at Duddell’s, Alfred and Ruby will share their filmmaking journey, which led to the production of The Last Stitch and the story behind HKDI. The Last Stitch is currently showing at MOViE MOViE Life is Art Film Festival." Film trailer is available here: https://youtu.be/3jLnE4LN5I8 This event is free of charge. Image is of the film's 1 sheet poster.
- Screen "Music Beyond Sound: An American's World of Guqin"
Many of you might remember the amazing Guqin / 古琴 recital we presented with the Guqin Master John Thompson. Guqin is one of the most ancient Chinese instruments and features prominently in almost every facet of Chinese culture. Master Thompson is a recognized Master having studied it for 50 years in Taiwan, Hong Kong and beyond so when he agreed to perform for us it was a real treat. Around that time he told me a little bit about his story. I thought it fascinating. He spent several years studying guqin from Chinese National Treasure Sun Yü-Ch'in / 孫毓芹 in Taiwan before going on to specialize in Early Chinese Music translating, recording, and consulting for Chinese music specialist around the world. Filmmaker Lao Shing Hon has now made a documentary about Master Thompson's epic journey. This is a "not to be missed" event as Master Thompson will be in attendance to play some of his work. The link provided will lead you to the Movie-Movie City Plaza ticketing website where you can buy your tickets individually. Tickets are selling out fast so you must buy your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets can be found here. There list price is $95 without concession. http://bit.ly/2ZtoGVj
- Journey through Central's "30 Houses' Yulan Festival"
Of the many Chinese festivals that are held in Hong Kong, Hungry Ghost or Yulan - 鬼節 can be among the most daunting. Long-lasting, complex, and downright scary at times, Hungry Ghost contains scary kings, confused ghosts and rules and warnings that can make the most sensible among us shutter. Wouldn't it be great if someone could help demystify this festival for us? Someone who can explain the most important rituals and key concepts all from a personal perspective? Well, Hong Kong Sacred Spaces has invited Ms. Cardin Chan to help us navigate this perplexing event. As an independent cultural conservationist, Ms Chan also works as a researcher and project manager from Zolima City Mag who shares a passion for local culture. She has agreed to walk with a small selected group of Sacred Spaces members to uncover the hidden secrets of Yulan. This event will cost $150 payable at the beginning of the event. Spots are extremely limited so kindly sign up as soon as you can. Attendance will be taken and "no shows" will be noted so please be responsible for your calendar. Photocredit Cardin Chan
- Mr. Hello's Adventures in Nantou County / 南投縣
Most of you who've come to a Hong Kong Sacred Spaces event have met Jonathan Ross. He's always “first one in, last one out" during most of our adventures, seemingly unafraid of any cultural context where miscommunications or misinterpretations are likely. What you may not know is that Jonathan spent 18 months in the mid-1970s studying a farming village in Nantou County / 南投縣 in central Taiwan on the shore of Sun Moon Lake/日月潭 for his Ph.D. dissertation in Anthropology. During his talk, Jonathan will show and discuss photographs from his time there that will give the audience a unique insight into the past, seeing weddings, funerals, shamanistic and other rituals and many, many other slices of rural life. He will also juxtapose more recent photographs to give a comparison to that time long ago. You will also find out why he was Mr. Hello!
- Visit exhibition "Strokes of Wonder: Figure Painting by Ren Bonian..."
Hong Kong Sacred Spaces continues our summertime visits to leading local museums by viewing "Strokes of Wonder: Figure Painting by Ren Bonain - 任頤" [masked]) at CUHK's Art Museum. Ren was a leading figure in what is known as the "Shanghai School" of painting that made the first avant-guard attempts at East / West fusion in China. Early Shanghai School paintings were forerunners of Haipai - 海派 visual culture that Shanghai became associated with during the following generations. From the exhibit's webpage... "'Strokes of Wonder: Figure Painting by Ren Bonian from the National Art Museum of China' is the first blockbuster exhibition of the ‘Shanghai school of painting’ pioneer in Hong Kong, featuring 82 paintings by Ren Bonian from the prestigious museum in Beijing. Credited as one of the most influential Chinese painters in recent memory, Ren’s artistic prowess inspired numerous later painters including Wu Changshi, Xu Beihong, and Zhang Daqian. This exhibition will highlight Ren’s innovative brushwork in figure painting and creative adaptations of historical genres and popular tales, which endear him to generations of artists, collectors, and casual art viewers. A rare portrait of Ren by Xu Beihong from the Xu Beihong Memorial Museum and an expressive sculpture by Director Wu Weishan will also be shown." Hong Kong Sacred Spaces has been granted an English Language Tour of the exhibit. Why not come along a quiet Saturday morning to view this important exhibition.
- Mandala मण्डल Drawing Workshop with Reshma Rohra
For several thousand years the Mandala has symbolized the universal in both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It appears in many places and in many different forms as a gentle reminder of our place in the cosmos. Just as in meditation, tai-chi, and other spiritual and health practices it is up to us to approach the Mandala in hopes that we too can unlock its power. Hong Kong Sacred Spaces is delighted to present an immersive interactive drawing workshop with art instructor Reshma Rohra who will teach us how to draw the Mandala in a deep and meaningful way. Using ink and paper we will explore the meditative qualities of drawing in a mindful and directed way. In this Workshop, you will learn the step-by-step drawing technique of drawing the Mandala to practice mindfulness by setting all your focus on creating a piece of art. No drawing experience needed just a positive outlook and a willingness to learn. All art materials will be provided at the venue. Workshop Focus: Understanding of Mandalas: -Learn the Step-by-step Technique for drawing symmetrical Mandalas -Every Participant's Mandala will be Different from the Other -Learning about Various Zentangle Patterns and How to Use Them -Exploring one's Creative Potential with Different Patterns and Colors -2 Hours of Art Therapy -Focus on Goal Fulfillment while Drawing -Understanding the Concept of Mindfulness and Practicing it while Drawing Workshop takeaway: -A sense of satisfaction in learning a new form of art -Benefits of the goal-fulfillment therapy -The skill to practice Mandalas making after one workshop -A beautiful piece of art which can be framed Rehma has been kind enough to offer Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Meetup Members a 10% discount. The participation and materials fee is $450 which includes: Materials include: -260g thick paper suitable for ink drawing and coloring for each participant -2 art pens with different nib sizes per participant for drawing different patterns -1 pencil each -1 eraser each -3 shared sharpeners -1 plastic scale each -1 protractor each -1 compass each -2-3 sets of color pencils Biography Reshma Rohra is a self-taught artist with a long fascination with the spiritual and meditative side of art. Currently based in Hong Kong Reshma was born and brought up in India where her interest in Art and Art Therapy began in 2013. Originally thought of as merely an artistic challenge, drawing intricate Mandalas and Zentangle patterns soon became a passion that Reshma has learned to share with those around her. Stroke by stroke, each drawing moving her closer to peace, happiness and a profound sense of fulfillment. This is what she wishes to share with you along with the confidence and awareness of the power of drawing this most beautiful and important symbol.
- Tour Chungking Mansion - 重慶大廈
Ascribing personality to a building is a little melodramatic. It happens all the time especially in design and architectural publications. Yet most buildings in our everyday life can be regarded simply. They are either "good" or "bad", "ugly" or "beautiful", rarely is it any more nuanced than that. Chungking Mansions, however, might be the exception. For various reasons, the Mansions remains one of the most enigmatic places in Hong Kong. Designed as residential housing and built by the Sino-Philippine developer Jaime Chua Tiampo - 蔡天普 the Mansions were a crowd jewel of Tsim Sha Tsui in the 1960s when it was built. It had apartments, a shopping arcade, a rather famous nightclub all with pretensions to luxury before its reputation took a decidedly downward turn in the 1970s and 1980s. Through it all, the Mansions survived fires, corruption scandals, and a few police raids clinging to a low-tech, high-intensity globalized entrepreneurship that few places in the world can match. If Hong Kong is a fast city then the Chungking Mansions is its whirlwind beating heart. Hong Kong Sacred Spaces is delighted to announce a tour of the Chungking Mansions co-hosted by the African Center Hong Kong. The Africa Center is a group dedicated to promoting African Culture centered in Chungking Mansions. The tour will include a walk through various warrens of the Complex and a discussion about past and present residence. It might include a peek at the roof (weather permitting) Afterwards we'll be treated to a buffet lunch of West African cuisine. I can think of no better way to explore this "city within a city" and learn about its colorful past. This event will cost $200 including the tour and buffet. Spaces are limited so book your space now!
- Experience Hùhng Gār - 洪家拳 Kung Fu and the Art of Fight Choreography
Given all the traditional activities that we do at Hong Kong Sacred Spaces, you might wonder why we don't do more Kung Fu events. It would be a fair point. We've visited festivals, Lion and Dragon Dances, we've had workshops on Traditional Paper Crafts but we've really not done a lot with what is arguably the most famous traditional activity here in the Region. Hong Kong has always been a launching pad and window into traditional Chinese Martial Arts. Whether because of its location or vibrant film culture Hong Kong has launched a thousand Kung Fu careers both in the Entertainment and Health and Wellbeing Industries. In recent years the health elements of Martial Arts has been promoted giving us an almost endless array of choices. Whether more "Martial" or "Health" related Kung Fu is a powerful indigenous practice that connects the past to the present and attracts people from the world over. Hong Kong Sacred Spaces is happy to announce what is hopefully the first of many Kung Fu related activities with a visit to the Kwai Fong Martial Club to take part in a Hùhng Gār - 洪家拳 Kung Fu Workshop w/ Sifu Mak Che Kong - 麥志剛. Hùhng Gār - 洪家拳 (or Hung Ga / Hung Kuen) is one of the many Southern Shaolin Styles of Kung Fu notable for its dramatic deep and low stances. As such it has been a favorite to the Hong Kong Film industry which is why this visit is so special as it will be attended by Sifu Mak Che Kong - 麥志剛 and film historian and filmmaker (and Sacred Spaces Member) Bey Logan. Sifu Mak and Mr. Logan will demonstrate the art of Hùhng Gār - 洪家拳 and talk about its history and how it interacts with Hong Kong Cinema. This is an amazing opportunity to lay the groundwork for future Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Kung Fu related events and to learn about Hùhng Gār - 洪家拳 by some of its most important scholars and practitioners. Kindly Note: This is a Hong Kong Sacred Spaces Society "Members Only" event. Society membership is separate from Meetup and requires that you complete a Society Membership form and pay an annual membership fee of $100 HKD. Please click http://bit.ly/2udlezN for details.