Dine at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate – Farewell to the Last Resettlement Public Rental Housing Exhibition
Despite its 40 years of history, Blocks 8 to 14 of the Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate will cease to exist when the barriers are set up to encircle and block out this huge area of seven housing estate buildings for demolition. We shall no longer see the old folks sitting around in small groups on their well-worn stools, chatting idly in the long corridors, recalling their lives to each other; we shall no longer hear the ice cafe owner’s loud crying voice, perhaps hawking “$3 for a Pineapple Bun, Big and a Real Bargain”; and furthermore we shall no longer smell the odours wafting out from the distant old herbal medicine shop. All these in the near future can only be traced in memories. In a bustling city such as ours, it was Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate and its peers, their grassroot living style and their community spirit, which had edged out the personality and the essence of the city. And this was precisely the unique indigenous culture of Hong Kong.
Public Housing Old Estates – Their Culture and Spirit
In the early morning, as sunlight shone through the grille walls of the stairwell and fell on the building corridors, the old folks with white hair were already gathered on the open grounds. In tens and scores they lined up neatly, engaging in the same postures, striking a slow and even tempo; they were doing their tai-chi shadow boxing, the Luk Tung Kuen. The long corridors and the spaces around the stairs on each floor served well for group activities and acted as a playground for the kids. When there were days of sunshine, multi-coloured blanket-cases and woollen blankets would hang on the rails on the ground floors of the estates, forming beautiful patterns, as if they were public display items of installation art. If one had gone up the buildings to visit a resident, one could find that many units have different styles of metal gates on their doors, the patterns and designs nostalgically recalling the picture-frames of the old days. Painted in different bright colours, this is creative folk art, and home-decoration with a personal flair.
The short scenes outlined above will remind us of the TV show “Below the Lion Rock”. It may be possible to infinitely rebroadcast the show, but if we do not preserve the culture and spirit of the large old housing estates, these scenes will completely disappear as the buildings are torn down. When we came to a certain point in history, we might turn our heads, but unable to locate any trace of the old community culture – what a regrettable loss that would be. Without a past, how could a city look forward to its future.
A Collective Art Creation Instigated by the Private Sector Itself
We hope to use the opportunity of this final Resettlement Housing Estate, before it succumbs to being torn down, to document the rich and multi-faceted story of Hong Kong and its Public Housing development history. “Lower NTK Estate Dinner Bell – Resettlement Estate Farewell Exhibition” has gathered together 9 artists who deeply cherish local culture, and they will present the indigenous living style and spirit to the viewers through photographs, videos, illustrations, sounds, installation art and text, in a multimedia format to present an authentic culture and spirit of the estate. They will make use of the public gathering places of the local residents – Hing Kee Tea Restaurant, Yuen Fat Noodle Shop, an old-styled barber shop, and a traditional votive paper offerings shop – as their display venue. They have prepared a farewell “9-course banquet” to say goodbye to the days of the resettlement estates, and to share such memories with you.
The Starting Point for Public Outreach
Months and years went by, with their moving stories of how Hong Kong people arduously struggled through their hardships, and in these we have rediscovered the core values of the “Hong Kong Spirit”. We hope to use this exhibition to interview 69 persons who once lived in resettlement estates, to let them tell us their own touching stories. With their oral histories we will try to capture the Hong Kong living style and spirit.
A collective memory is not the only aim of this exhibition. The further goal is that there can be an exhibition started and organized by the common folk, the residents, the public and the community, and through the exhibition to link together more members of the public. The result is to reconstruct the facts of people and events so that they would not be obliterated, to show forth the energy of people and the magic of local culture. All good things must come to an end, they say. We sincerely invite you to respond the “Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate Dinner Bell”, to experience, or to re-tell, the story and culture of resettlement estates, and let it be preserved and be shared with the coming generations!
Iman Fok Curator
Date: From 1 March 2009 until “Going Out with a Bang”
Opening Ceremony: 13:00(Guests only) 15:30(Open to Public) on 1 March 2009, Play ground next to Hing Kee Tea Restaurant
Venue: Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, Block 10, Ground Floor, Hing Kee Tea Restaurant, Yuen Fat Noodle Shop, and Ming Sing Co.
Curator: Iman Fok, Tin Man
Exhibitors: Juno Chan, Hang Siu, Da, Martin Chan, Patsy Chan, Terris Choi, Mon Chan, Simon Go, Stell So, Cally yu and Happy Action