Mosaic Tour in HongKong

Last weekend I visited Hongkong. In preparation for my trip I researched “Mosaic artists in Hongkong” – and Karen Pow appeared on my screen. After being disappointed that she wouldn’t be in Hongkong when I was there, I was over the moon when she provided me with the detailed locations of her public mosaics all over town – my plan took shape to go on a mosaic tour through Hongkong. I was even more excited when Karin Moorhouse an Australian travel- and food writer who lives in Hongkong for most of her adult life, agreed to join me and even better suggested, as an insider, to work out the route. So we met on a fine morning of January 13, 2020 at the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry terminal to go on this adventure. In the evening of that day over a beer she drew me a line on the map where we went – to my surprise we had circled both main islands Hongkong and Kowloon – seeing great mosaic murals – and touched a lot of Hongkong life and history away from the normal tourist spots. Here is my picture story:

First we went to Mei Foo Sun Chuen station where we found after a bit of asking the Evangel Seminary with Karen Pows latest commissions, beautifying the courtyard of the seminary.

Address: G/F 38-46 Nassau St., Mei Foo Sun Chuen.

The premisses of the seminary are in the lower ground of a multi story building in a a residential neighborhood.

We moved on using the MTR Hongkongs Metro to Tsuen Wan MTR station

The community mosaic at the outside wall of Tuen Wan MTR station was made in 2010 in a collaboration between Karen Pow and Gareth Dunster, with the participation of schools and youth clubs of the area.

The dynamic shapes depicting geometrical patterns from impressions of the city are mounted on the wall along a footbridge along side the station. In downtown Hongkong you can walk a lot on these footbridges over the roaring traffic below the towering high-rise but protected from rain and sun by roofs.

Then we drove to another metro station that was the place of heavy fights between police and demonstrators in the ongoing conflict in Hongkong. During the days of my visit the city was quiet and only the traces of papers stuck over the mosaics in this metro station are some marks of heated disputes.

Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Island

For Lunch Karin took me to this beautiful new garden&Temple development. We could rest our eyes on the green after looking intensively at walls and our energy was fueled with a delicious vegetarian meal at the restaurant in the park carefully chosen by my food connoisseur companion.

The last stop was one of the remaining villages of Hongkong. The dwelling on a steep slope reminded me of the location of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Outside the village is a map with points of interest, a pagoda, a silo, a diary workers club.

Pokfulham Village, Pukfulham Road, Hongkong Island

For the community arts biennale 2013 Karen Pows studio in collaboration with students made the plaques for places of interest in the village using mosaic . Unfortunately we could only find the plaque for the Silo although we walked around a lot in the narrow streets of this dwelling.

Did you know that Hongkong had its own cattle farm and diary production? It turned out that Karin Moorhouse had worked at the diary factory as a manager. Now hard to imagine given the developments of high rise over the past 40 years. The village stayed as a witness of the past of many ordinary people in Hongkong. Hopefully it will not give way to a high rise development.

This is the route we took that day and I am in awe what I saw and learned about Hongkongs living quarters, architecture, history, public transport systems. Thank you Karen Pow for producing all these mosaics that lead me and Karin through your city and thank you Karin for being such a wonderful host and guide. Without you I wouldn’t have learned about the diary farm, the clashes right under the mosaics of Ngau Tao Kok station and the new Nan Lion Garden.

Our mosaic route on January 13, 2020

Mosaics in Beijing

And again …. mosaics are in my neighborhood. This mosaic is spread along the entire platform of our metro station Dongsi Shitiao of line 2, one of the oldest metro lines in Beijing. A nice research project for me to find out more about the artist and manufacturing workshop when I come back from holiday in September.

USA mosaic trip – part three – Detroit

In Detroit my dear friend Miriam Engstrom, psychologist, singer and actor, who I met at our posting in Ankara, showed me around this incredible interesting city. Miriam is from a three generation Detroit family – so she took me to the place her grandmother worked in.

The red brick building is the Guardian building (built 1928-29), the so called “Cathedral of finance” – an art deco office tower in downtown Detroit.

Inside the Guardian Building – colorful tiled comb structured vaults by Rookhook Ceramics (later restored by Pewabic Pottery) and cast iron gateEdit

Miriam in the main public hall. The ceiling is not brick – its canvas made out of horse hair painted in order to keep the sound low in this bank hall.

Later we visited the Pewabic Pottery established by Mary Chase Perry Stratton in the early 1900 in Detroit. The pottery workshop is one of the few renowned ceramic manufacturers in the US until today.

The pottery developed in swing with the arts and crafts movement in America as in Europe at the beginning of the 20st century. As Mary C. Stratton Perry came from a fine art degree and a career in painting china, she started making vessels. Later she became more and more a ceramic artist and fabricant for ceramic tiles and mosaic style art for architectural surfaces. In Detroit there are eight public buildings that hold the work of Pewabic Pottery architectural art. One of it is the Guardian building described above. Not only is Pewabic Pottery known in Detroit. The Crypt in the Basilica of the Shrine in Washington DC, of its mosaics I wrote about in the previous blog, is decorated with Pewabic tile mosaic designed by Mary Stratton. This commission was carried out between 1925-31 and is seen as Mary Strattons pinnacle in her career as a ceramicist.

A visit to the studio of German Artist Birgit Huttemann – Holz provided for continuation in visiting female artists work in Detroit. Birgit works with encaustic painting and gave us a demonstration in her rather refined technique of encaustic printing. I was impressed by her work and her spacious studio which she rents for a rather cheap price in a former industrial building. This is Detroit for you!

And Detroit although still suffering from high unemployment, failing education and race related social problems is developing new cool urban areas with fine restaurants, bars, art and crafts shops. One is the Eastern Market area. There we found the real street art – not only in graffiti but also in mosaic!