2. What is the artwork about?
Stella So’s artworks are about old Hong Kong because she wants to express her experiences of living in Hong Kong, and in particular her concerns about the rapid modernisation of the city and the loss of its historical architectural landscape by using a range of mediums including illustration, comics and animation. Those illustrations are mainly drawn based on Stella So’s personal experience and her imagination.
3. Cultural and social background of the artwork
Stella So thinks that Hong Kong has many visual elements along its streets, especially elements of the older culture. Because the government wants to earn money from buying land and re-building on it, these elements will fade away. There’s no way to stop it. She draws them in her illustrations to collect them and in hopes that she can reconstruct the city in her mind. How can we let our lovely memories fade away?
4. Understanding / Interpretation of the artwork
In my opinion, collective memory can be found in Stella So’s artwork. The artwork shows the old Hong Kong which Stella So has experienced when she was young. However, the places, where she had been to, are going to disappear because of urban development. The old Hong Kong only exists in people’s minds. As a result, Stella So want to draw them out for people to cherish their memory of old Hong Kong and hope people can try their best to protect Hong Kong. In fact, those places and objects are what we call collective memory nowadays. However, it’s a bit sad that we can only see the old Hong Kong in Stella So’s artworks, rather than seeing it in the place where we live now. Therefore, people should strive to conserve valuable historical heritages in Hong Kong.
5. Do you like the work and why?
I really like Stella So’s work because she used many different techniques in drawing colorful illustrations which is very attractive to readers. Also, all of her artworks have a story and underlying meaning. For example, Very Fantastic and City of Powder – the disappearing Hong Kong want to convey readers a message that Hong Kong is losing its history and culture due to rapid urban development. People can only find the old Hong Kong in their memories. As a result, Stella So’s work can raise the public concern and increase awareness towards conservation of historical buildings and local culture.
6. Comparing with other artists’ work
Hong Kong Pop Up (香港彈起) is published by Kit Lau. Like Stella So’s work, both of them use old Hong Kong as the background of their work and they are about collective memory. Hong Kong Pop up shows six types of unique buildings in Hong Kong, which are Chinese old tenements, squatter areas, resettlement estates, Kowloon Walled City, public housing estates and western-style buildings. They are going to disappear due to urban development. The difference between Kit Lau’s work and Stella So’s work is that Kit Lau displays those old buildings by 3D papercraft, whereas Stella So draws illustrations on Chinese 9-square calligraphy paper.
7. Other people’s comment on the work
A lyrical article at Honey Pupu (Art writer) is as detailed an analysis of So’s art as you will find online. The author doesn’t see her as any sort of conservationist — she hasn’t the influence or the training for this — but as a nostalgist, the poetry of whose images convey something of the truth of memory. These comics are free from narrative and the flow of time; the saturated hues and imaginings not suggestive of history, but of something instinctive and almost incontrovertible.
The comment on Stella So’s work is positive and people think that her work can show the real Hong Kong in the past. Although the time passed, we can still find old Hong Kong and our collective memory in her works.
8. The significance of the work in the context of Hong Kong
Nowadays, the Hong Kong government always talk about sustainable development. However, when facing the problem of limited land supply, it is ironic that the government would think of destroying natural area or demolishing historical landscape in order to increase residential area and facilitate urban development. Typical example is the renewal of the “Wedding Card Street”. Those residents are forced to move away from “Wedding Card Street” and they lose their neighbourhood. The culture of buying wedding cards in “Wedding Card Street” is also disappeared. Then who is going to protect local culture and historical heritage? Stella So’s work suggests that all Hong Kong people have a right to protect our collective memory and we should take the initiative to express our opinion in urban and rural development.
If you want to know more about Stella So, you can visit her website and blog for more information!!!!
Stella So’s Website: http://www.smstella.com/
Stella So’s Blog: http://stellaso.blogspot.hk/
Stella So’s Old Girl Diary: http://oldgirldiary.blogspot.hk/
1. Ng Suat Tong. Memories of Old Hong Kong. Retrieved on 4 Mar 2014 from http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2011/03/two-comics-by-stella-so/
2. Honey pupu. City of Powder – the disappearing Hong Kong. Retrieved on 4 Mar 2014 from http://honeypupu.pixnet.net/blog/post/10842846
3. Cheryl Wong Wing-zi. Hong Kong artist, Stella So. Retrieved on 4 Mar 2014 from http://hk-magazine.com/events/article/hong-kong-artist-stella-so
4. ac101. City of Powder – the disappearing Hong Kong. Retrieved on 4 Mar 2014 from http://www.douban.com/photos/photo/534701558/#image
5. The Pop-Up Kingdom. Hong Kong Pop Up. Retrieved on 4 Mar 2014 from http://www.popupkingdom.com/2009/07/blog-post.html