Hong Kong Part 1: People and protests


There have been no posts recently, because I have been in Hong Kong! It’s glorious here. I eat huge quantities of delicious food every day, and every evening I drink small quantities of delicious wine, followed by huge quantities of cheap Chinese beer. It’s better than being in London, certainly. I haven’t had my hands on a scanner for some time, but I have made hundreds of drawings in my sketchbook, and today I started getting round to scanning them. There are quite a few though, so I’m going to put them up over the next couple of days in separate posts.

First-off, the Protests. While these aren’t the first drawings I made, I’m putting them up top because they’re most relevant to the recent news: the protest camp in Admiralty has been dismantled. I made these drawings the day before they were taken down by police, as well as noting various things that people had to say about the protest (by “people”, I meant the very unscientific sample group of various Hong Kong friends I’ve had lunch with in the last few days.)

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I was surprised by how unsupportive a lot of people were about the protests- some people complained about the traffic disruptions, but my more lucid friends talked about how unfocused the protests were and that they seemed to try to combat not only democratic issues, but a lot of the economic pressures that young people in HK feel. That said, when I went down there, even on a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, there were thousands of people walking around the camp, so it certainly stands against what a handful of my cynical pals say.

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I’m actually staying on the campus of Lingnan University (courtesy of the incredible Cat O’Neil who is artist-in-residence there), and while there are almost no students around (as it’s exam-time), there are banners supporting the protest on almost every flat surface in the university. You can see one in the background, with a student posing in front of it.

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I suppose the surprising-but-not-that-surprising thing is how little visible impact the protests have in areas which aren’t directly related to the protest camps or student movements. I guess in any situation, people will always need to continue with their daily lives, and it’s worth remembering that even if ten thousand, or even a hundred thousand people went out to protest, it would still only be a small percentage of Hong Kong’s total population. So a lot of my drawings have just been of everyday life, and things I’ve been strolling around doing.

Here’s a student revising in a cafe- you can tell it’s exam time at the universities, because every public space is suddenly full of students revising.

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Even on trains:

james sb 18james sb 19james sb 20There are also plenty of situations of young people just sitting around with their phones and chatting and hanging out. I’m not terribly competent with technology, and I find the prevalence of Candy Crush in Hong Kong both mystifying and slightly frightening.


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Another big thing is photo-taking: a lot of people take photos of every single thing they see. The drawing below doesn’t show this terribly clearly because it’s very quick, but two lorries had crashed on the motorway, and there were crowds of people on the pedestrian bridge overlooking the crash and taking hundreds of photos of it.

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The only person around who hadn’t run onto the bridge to take a photo, interestingly, was a female construction worker, who was standing around and glowering at everyone- presumably because they’d all just run onto a bridge to take photos of a traffic accident.

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But anyway- last phone-related drawing of the day: I sat next to one kid on the train, who spent about ten minutes taking dozens of photos of his shoes, trying different instagram filters on them, and finally putting them online captioned “My beloved trainers”. Between the pressure of exams and the desperate fight for universal suffrage, it’s important not to lose sight of the small pleasures in life.

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1 Comment

Filed under Drawing, Sketchbook

One response to “Hong Kong Part 1: People and protests

  1. What interest contrasts you have observed and documented, from the events capturing worldwide media attention to the peculiar points of interests in people’s everyday lives like rubbernecking accidents and sharing photos of shoes.

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