Travels with my Wife

Hong Kong from the Water and Air

fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel +61 3 9662 9966

Exhibition Dates: 23 March - 10 April 2021

Exhibition opens Tuesday 23 March 2021, 5pm - 7pm
Spaces at the opening may be limited, please RSVP to communications@fortyfivedownstairs.com by Friday 19 March 2021

Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11am - 5pm
Saturday 11am - 3pm



My wife likes to travel. Travel is her great escape, from the daily grind of earning a living, to a world of places, experiences and romantic atmospheres that bring joy to her soul.

In 2018 Sophie's journey to Hong Kong was different and she needed some support. This time it was travelling to work. Finding an everyday life in a foreign environment where you have no established friends or local connections is not the romance of travel. It's a little daunting. So I found myself - for first of many times - on a plane to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - China: One Country, Two Systems: The Asian Century. An Asian mega-city, an international finance hub sporting an array of architectural show pieces promoting various brand-egos.

So what did I find? I mean apart from the obvious: an Asian mega-city, an international finance hub sporting an array of architectural show pieces promoting various brand-egos.

But what made an impression on me and what led me to paint was -

The airport: An artificial island in the South China Sea has spectacular views of cloud covered Lantau Mountain and its form signals China. The mountain is guarded by rows of apartment towers lined up like soldiers. Imagining a life there sends a shudder down my spine. Look in the opposite direction, beyond planes, runways, hangers, terminals and you'll see the sea and ubiquitous clouds, haze, ships and busy swarms of dredges.

The harbour: The water, where ships come and go as they have, ever since and even before the British freebooters, thugs and drug runners stole it at gunpoint. Those same ships I saw from the airport, all shapes, sizes and ages, but mainly the grimy, ships of work and commerce, old, new, big and little.

What I found was, I guess, what was ever there: the gateway to southern China, to trade and riches. Now it belongs to China and the Hong Kongers have mostly quietened down.

A haze sits over it all: the tropical haze, the industrial haze. Everything is just that little unclear ...

James Yuncken, February 2021