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Art What!: Hong Kong Through The Looking Glass at Suntec City

Miss travelling to Hong Kong? Head down to Suntec City this April to check out Hong Kong: Through The Looking Glass, a mind-bending miniature exhibition that showcases a diminutive side of the city through sculptural masterpieces, right here in the heart of Singapore. Exhibiting as part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the exhibition is currently making its debut in Singapore after successful tours across various cities in China and Japan.

“Due to the pandemic, we had some challenges setting up the exhibition; usually we’d have a team of more than 10 people, including the artists, coming in. But now there’s just two of us working together with a local team to do the set-up,” says a spokesperson from the Joyful Miniature Association. “Thankfully, we managed to get it done working with an art moving company here. We came here about 2 weeks ago, and managed to set it all up over two nights, consulting the original artists on the set-up and sending them photos to make sure we present it exactly right.”

Hong Kong: Through the Looking Glass promises an immersion in the unique world of miniature art. The magic lies with the viewers as visitors re-imagine Hong Kong on a different scale, where a Siew Mai is considered a giant. 40 miniatures will be on display, as they evoke sensations of old, new and beloved Hong Kong immortalised through precision, patience and passion of talented Hong Kong artists.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Highlights of the exhibition include a 1:35 scale model of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, possibly the most unique festival celebrated in Hong Kong. Athletes raced to the top of a 14-metre bamboo tower covered with lucky buns, collecting as many buns as possible to win. This traditional festival is still celebrated to date and a must-see attraction of Cheung Chau Island. 

Bamboo Theatre

A 1:35 scale model of the Bamboo Theatre showcases plenty of detail in the unique structure, used as temporary Chinese opera performance venues erected in villages, towns or football courts during festivals and celebrations such as Yue Lan Festival. The architecture represents a unique folk custom and construction skill. For this exhibit, the artist has painted over 1,000 lightbulbs and handmade the large flower board to highlight the lively atmosphere and traditional craftsmanship.

Yue Man Square

A 1:76 scale model of Yue Man Square exhibits the old days of Kwun Tong, an industrial heartland with its bright neon lights, busy traffic and neighbourhood shops. Check out the mega superstar movie poster on the historic Bonds Theatre. In recent years, Kwun Tong has been revitalized into an exciting district where new is playing with the old. Inside its old industrial blocks, there are designers, musicians, entrepreneurs and artists, making this one of Hong Kong’s most creative districts.

China Café

A 1:18 scale model of the iconic “China Café” represents this shooting location of many classic films in Hong Kong. The exhibit is so exquisite that the ceiling fans can turn and you can see the tiny strokes on the coins at the cashier counter. Look closer – you might even spot Bruce Lee in this miniature model.

Handsome Man Tea House

A 1:43 scale model of the Handsome Man Tea House represents teahouses as a whole in Hong Kong. Having been around since the 1850s, they remain a popular place where locals hang out, where customers would bring their pet birds and hang the bird cages up on the window. Today, tea drinking is a quintessential Hong Kong experience and enjoyed in various forms, from traditional teahouses to modern tea rooms and even quirky tea bars. 

The Blue House

A 1:24 scale model of the eye-catching Blue House will also be on display. Gaining its colour during a renovation in the 1990s, the Blue House is a typical Lingnan-style house built in 1922 with wide balconies. The well-preserved architecture used to house a martial arts studio opened by the nephew of Huang Feihong’s disciple, Lin Shirong, whose descendants then converted it into a Chinese medical clinic. A grade one historic building, the Blue House is now something of a living museum. This miniature re-created the details laboriously, including the wooden staircase with marks for collecting manure, the patterned floor and the tiny lock. 

Tai O Heritage Hotel

A 1:35 scale model of the charming Tai O Heritage Hotel references how it perches on a lush hillside overlooking Tai O fishing village. Converted from the colonial Tai O Police Station built in 1902, the building won an UNESCO Award of Merit for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The exhibit captures the mix of colonial architectural elements from the original building as well as the glass roof restaurant. Today, the hotel operates as a non-profit social enterprise, promoting the unique traditions of Tai O and sustainable tourism. 

Lee Tung Avenue

A 1:35 model displays Lee Tung Avenue, a prime example of Hong Kong’s unique East meets West character. Known for its European style buildings decorated with bright red lanterns hung high up above the streets, Lee Tung Avenue is one of the best places to chill out and shop in Hong Kong. The traditional lion dance and LED dragon dance parade also make an interesting contrast in this exhibit.

“This marks our first exhibition in Southeast Asia, before we head back to Hong Kong, and tour to other cities, such as Osaka, Tokyo and Sydney. If we ever come back here, we hope we can bring in other exhibits, like Victoria Harbour and Lan Kwai Fong to showcase even more of our culture,” adds the Joyful Miniature Association spokesperson. “There’s a lot that has changed since the pandemic, but some of our famous markets and attractions are slowly, and surely coming back. I hope that Singaporeans can come to the exhibition and experience a taste of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage, and how multicultural our city is.”

Photo Credit: Joyful Miniature Association

Hong Kong: Through the Looking Glass runs from 4th to 17th April 2022 at Suntec City East Atrium Level 1 & Level 3, #03-342 (near playground). Entry is free, more information available here.

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