Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2019

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts

Author's Program


Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)




As Hong Kong approaches 2047—the year that China will formally commandeer the government—fear looms over our city. Since 2014—the emergence of the Umbrella Revolution—thousands of protests occur every year, as citizens continue to fight against the policy changes that China has imposed upon the city. Our freedom and our future hangs in a delicate balance; no one know what China will do next as the Communist government is too unpredictable. I left Hong Kong eight years ago but since these riots began, I have felt an urgency to understand the exact nature of Hong Kong’s identity, to tell our story before China potentially changes my city permanently. Fuelled by these doubts about the future of the city, my thesis investigates this question of Hong Kong’s identity through personal stories, historical narratives and current issues. These categories manifest themselves into poetic objects that each tell a small nugget of the story— a beautiful yet haunting sculpture, a fabric lantern that denotes my experiences in school, a book and a rug that represents a gesture of forgiveness, a desk and a map that reimagines a colonial classroom experience and an umbrella, that symbolises hope for change.

Mentor/Primary Advisor

Michael Byron and Lisa Bulawsky

Artist's Statement

Hong Kong was the natural child of the British Empire and Qing Dynasty China. Yet from the island’s departure and return to China, neither parent was fully willing to claim the child as their own and has yet to do so. Growing up in post-colonial Hong Kong, I accepted my generation’s lack of an explicit identity. 2047 was when Communist China would officially assert their power over us again. But the Umbrella Revolution revealed that the threat of the potential erosion of one country, two systems was very real and that it was already happening.

My practice entails that I actively seek my city’s past and present so that I will not be afraid for my future. I use a limited colour palette of pink, purple, iridescent colours, hyacinth, scarlet, yellows and indigos, to symbolise the most personal to the most universal. My home, a place that I once equated with the sense of comfort is now reduced to a foreign world tucked behind golden doors, cold to the touch. And behind those doors, in a dark corner, lived all the quiet words spoken while the loud thoughts permeated the space, where the air was thick and dripping with judgement. I use hyacinth, the colour of my former school uniform, a qi pao, to question the idea of what is proper. I remember my name labelled on a white corner in the convent, the stinging blows of metal against flesh, and the memory of resigning and accepting that this was what school was meant to be. I found that the essence of colonialism has been embedded into the very bones of my city. So I reclaim the carving of landscape or topography from wood and paper and print maps embellishing them with the same couture tradition of old Chinese masters. In a similar way I use shibori – a traditional Japanese technique of using indigo to dye fabric – to create a neutral space where one day our people may learn to forgive and forget the horrors of the Japanese invasion.

Today, Hong Kong is a divided city which is why one country two systems is fitting in every way. My grandparents’ generation lived with the humiliation of being given as a trophy to the British, so there is nothing they hate more. My parents’ generation grew up when Victorian Britain still ruled and now feel as if the parent had abandoned the child. My generation grew up with the remnants of our colonial past and looming fear of Communist China. Today, the majority of the government is pro-Beijing and all candidates are pre-approved by the capital. But the Umbrella Revolution woke up a mentality that we could be our own heroes. So I use yellow to symbolise this hope and this growing change that together, it was worth fighting for.