Naked truth of HK

Naked truth of HK

Two artists show city's neighbourhoods in a new light

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Artists Liu Ngan-ling aka Siu Ding and Ada Hung (right).
Artists Liu Ngan-ling aka Siu Ding and Ada Hung (right).
Photo: Thomas Yau/SCMP
Local artist Liu Ngan-ling has lived in 22 places in Hong Kong since she was born. Sau Mau Ping, Kwun Tong, Kowloon City, Yau Ma Tei, Tsuen Wan, Aberdeen, Pok Fu Lam, Tin Shui Wai, Tsing Yi, Causeway Bay... the list goes on.

"I lived with my mum until I was six years old, then I stayed with relatives," says the 34-year-old graphic designer and illustrator, best known by her nickname "Siu Ding".

When she was older, she shared flats with her girlfriends and boyfriends at different periods of time. Sometimes she lived by herself.

"The shortest time I stayed in a place was one month. Sometimes I had to move due to rent increases," she says.

Although her life seems unstable, she has never been negative.

"I feel like I'm 'drifting' from place to place but I've never felt bad about it," Liu says. "I think when you're living in a certain condition or environment, you learn to adapt to it. You can always find a way to make things work for you. I don't see my past in terms of good or bad; it's just how things were. It's life."

To embrace this significant aspect of her life, she has decided to make a documentary about it. The idea has become a photographic exhibition called the 22 Morning Streets Series. It features her standing naked in front of 22 different places she has lived. The photographs were all taken early in the morning, by her artist friend, Ada Hung Chuk-kwan.


Siu Ding in Kowloon Tong. Photo: Ada Hung

"When Siu Ding told me about the idea, I thought it was interesting. I thought the best way to present her story was using photographs, as images can help us to capture moments in time," says Hung, 29. "Morning is the best time because its shows the 'rawest' or most original sights of the city.

"And we chose to take nude photos because a piece of clothing would carry a certain meaning and lead to some kind of interpretation."

One of the places photographed is Kowloon City, Liu's favourite of all the neighbourhoods she has lived in.

"It's an amazing area which has practically everything you need: restaurants, convenience stores, clinics, fruit stores, a supermarket, a laundry, beauty and hair salons, a nursing home, a children's drawing workshop, a hospital, etc," Liu says. "The neighbourhood represents [the different phases in life] from birth and ageing, to sickness and death."

The project highlights the rapid changes in the city. Many shops in Kowloon City have already disappeared.

"Most shops have been bought by [big developers] and turned into something else. We hope the exhibition will make people think about their relationship with the community and treasure it more," Hung says.

"The exhibition is a gift to me, like a documentary of my life," says Liu.

"My experiences have made me who I am: free-spirited, seeking out new ideas, discovering new places and making new friends. I am happy with who I am and my life."

The 22 Morning Streets Series is at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin until November 26. Visit their website for more information.

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