There’s a huge class gap here in Hong Kong. Little do tourists know, but there are people who are living in cage homes, elderly who have to collect and sell cardboard at all hours of the morning to make ends meet and foreign domestic workers who are often exploited – and sometimes treated like second class citizens.
Being here stirs quite a few emotions for me, including feeling privileged. I hadn’t fully come to appreciate growing up in Australia, despite having previously thought travelling had really helped me open my eyes about the world, and myself. Don’t get me wrong, my perception has changed each time I’ve visited a new country, but living here for two months now has impacted me in a way I couldn’t imagine…I guess it’s never too late to learn more about yourself.
And this leads me to this week’s wrap.
HELP for Domestic Helpers
Now that I have realised some of the conditions that other people are living in day-in day-out, I have decided to volunteer with an organisation that offers assistance to domestic workers who have been taken advantage of. This week was a big rebrand event for HELP (previously Help for Domestic Helpers), where the organisation changed the name to better reflect the people it represents.
The event night was great! Seeing the room full of people who support the work HELP is doing, and the bigger issue of needing to change working conditions for domestic workers who get exploited was quite powerful. With delicious Indonesian and Filipino canapes, live music from a domestic worker who recently came second at a talent competition (the winner of the competition wasn’t able to attend as her employer wouldn’t let her have the time off), it was a hit.
I came in at the tail end with the rebrand, but it was great to be a part of the final countdown, working with a passionate team and seeing it all come to life.
Secret Walls x HKWalls Team Battle
HKWalls, Hong Kong’s annual street art festival was on this week, and not only did we go check out some of the street art, but we went to the live team battle which was super fun! (In a nutshell, the team battle is between two teams of four, who are challenged to filling a large blank canvas with black paint/markers in 90 minutes… while everyone watches.)
We got there around 9pm when the artists had already started to join in the fun. Watching them was fascinating – they were so talented with their freestyle drawing, creatively working in each of their additions to the rest of the wall. Watching one team bring a King Kong scene to life, while the other team combined a series of smaller pieces into one big piece was fascinating, and I was constantly changing my mind about who I thought would – and should – win. It seemed as if the crowd were just as invested in the artwork as the artists. Everyone was watching intensely as the murals came to fruition… one part of the judging was even measured by the crowd’s cheers in decibels.
The whole experience of both seeing the street art, and the battle was something I’ve never really seen before – seeing the process of the street art, rather than seeing it only in its finished form. Overall the night was full of good music, good people and great vibes.
This was a week full of art. We decided to check out Art Basel on its last day, an annual contemporary art fair. The fair stretched across two floors of the Exhibition Centre, showcasing hundreds of artworks… but what was as interesting as the art, was the people who attended the fair.
From those who dressed to impress and those who spoke loudly noting the other artworks they own, right through to those who were taking selfies with the art work, there was something to see everywhere we looked. We started to wonder if people were there to appreciate the art, or for status quo…after all if you don’t take a selfie, were you even there?
There was lots to take in, and I was inspired by quite a few artworks. But two that I liked in-particularly were a flamingo eye looking painting by Haluk Akakce, which was interestingly titled as a self-portrait, and a short multimedia piece by Wang Qingsong called Happy Bed, which explores the “primal and universal drives of reproduction”.
Until next week, that’s a wrap!