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On the Plain of Plenty

On the Plain of Plenty
Once upon a time, the Chinese characters of Yuen Long were literally “the plain of the plenty”. The alluvial basin, encompassing Kam Tin and Pat Heung to the east, Shap Pat Heung and Tai Tong to the south, Ping Shan and Hung Shui Kiu to the west, and Wang Chow and Tai Sang Wai to the north, is a rare expanse of flat land in hilly Hong Kong. Well irrigated and fertile, it had bountiful harvests under the blazing sun. The legend goes that rice from its paddy fields was offered to the emperors. Over time, various ethnic groups settled here, infusing the air with the aroma of home cooking from close and afar. As the new town developed, eateries sprouted along the main road. Citizens could affordably enjoy a hearty feast.

Now destined to become part of the Northern Metropolis, the plain of the plenty is in a state of flux. In this moment, how can we savour this place with artistic sensibility?

Chewing on food-related sites, six artists have cooked up our “Main Courses”. In a variety of artistic mediums and languages, these multisensory art projects ruminate on the substance of sustenance. “One the Side” is a dramaturgical presentation of small bites en route from Yuen Long town centre to Little Southeast Asia, Ping Shan and Lau Fau Shan. “Chefs’ Recommendations” stocktake culinary mementoes of the collaborating art and cultural practitioners. Sharing makes taste better--while filling your plate in this arts tour, you can share memorable flavours on a limited-edition postcard and on social media.

Please relish the depth of flavour in this loaded place. Bon appétit!

Tai Sang Wai x Tim Chan: In the Pond of Indifference

Various locations in Tai Sang Wai

Please respect the residents’ privacy and do not disturb their living environments. Please take away your trash.
Google Map

The vast sky above Tai Sang Wai is unblocked by high rises. What does it take to transform the saline shore into a habitat for freshwater fish? From an agricultural stronghold to a conservation zone for migrant birds, Tai Sang Wai has always been guarded by its custodians. When real estate is way more profitable than fish farming, the mirrored sky on the ponds is a reservoir of tenacity.

A sound walk by sound artist Tim Chan takes visitors on a multisensory journey—in search of the place’s energising sustenance for fish, birds and people.
 

Tim Chan composes music, creates sound art and loves photography. He pays tribute to heaven and earth through his music and sounds, and reflects on humans’ coexistence with all other beings. He thanks nature for endowing with us earl grey and the mandarin perch fish. The latter carries memories of his father: steam it for a minute a tael, simple and beautiful. He hopes these foods can fuel long journeys.

www.timtcchan.com

Seeds Lab x Monti Lai Wai-yi: Paddy-Go-Home

Tsing Tam Road, Shek Kong

Vis-a-vise the mainstream impression that agriculture sees no future, the founders of Seeds Lab started farming in their prime. Labouriously, gently and determinedly, they cultivate self-sustainability. Now, they sow experimental seeds: when little monsters stomp barefoot in the mud, the paddies get ready for the next growing season; when green sprouts grow into a golden harvest, we learn that food does not come from supermarkets but our land.

Observing from the side, farmer-artist Monti Lai Wai-yi leads participants to look for nourishment under Kai Kung Leng for a city-wide rice field.

"Monti" means a mountain. However, she seldom visits mountains, because most of the time, she is field-bound, busily observing the growth of plants. Her dedicated observation (instead of cultivation) earns her the nickname of "Mon (look in Cantonese) - ti (field)." Ten years have passed since she dived into the paddy fields. Observing by the farmside while farming with art is her deep practice.

Pun Chun Sauce and Preserved Fruit Factory x Cho Wing-ki: Enduring Taste

362 Tan Kwai Tsuen, Hung Shui Kiu

When an imported bottle of mass-produced sauce costs only a few dollars, the value of locally made condiments is beyond measure. For 125 years, Pun Chun Sauce and Preserved Fruit Factory has persisted with traditional methods. Its signature soy sauce matures under the sun, and all other products are also 100% made in Hong Kong. The characters of “Pun 品” and “Chun 珍” hold time and affectionate ties: once upon a time, sauce factories were all called “chun” because a drop of seasonings was precious enough in the humble days; Pun Chun was founded by three partners, thus the three “mouths” in the Chinese character “Pun.” Fourth-generation owner Mr Lai remembers swimming in the cooling conveyor. Director went through fire and water with his father. Everyone in the factory dined together…

With sauces on her palette, printmaker Cho Wing-ki shows how the seasoned factory left its marks.
 

Cho Wing-ki loves steps and processes. Printmaking looks repetitive; consistency is a quest of stability amidst constant material change. In the condiment factory, she is drawn to the aroma of sauces and the people who strive to preserve their tastes.

www.chowingki.com

Bei Bei Book House x Ray Chan See-kwong: Always a Bottle at Home

67 Tai Kong Po, Kam Tin
Google Map

Following a winding path, you will find Bei Bei Book House in the fields. The hospitable volunteers generously offer homely treats. All are the owner’s favourites. Two retired social workers founded this space for visitors to have a break from the hustle and bustle. Here they can enjoy slow life, play with dogs and cats, listen to the birds and chat with new acquaintances.

Ceramic artist Ray Chan See-kwong tailor-made a series of vessels for this leisurely space. Over teas and wines, visitors can taste nuanced flavours of a place.
 

Ray Chan See-kwong, a “clay experimentalist,” derives inspiration from food culture and cooking processes for his ceramic creations. With a diverse background in mathematics, singing and actuarial practice, Ray brings a unique perspective to his ceramic art. He merges baking and ceramic making in his exhibition B(read) and combines traditional salt-baking techniques with ceramics in the project Hi! Houses. In his recent exhibition, Vin de Hakka, Ray intertwines wine brewing and clay-making, infusing his ceramic works with elements of fermentation and wine culture. Through his innovative approach, Ray demonstrates the endless possibilities of ceramics beyond traditional forms. 

www.seekwong.hk/ IG seekwong

Hong Kong African Association x Yip Kai-chun: In the Village Lies a Continent

1. A Few Moments・Youth Hub, G/F, 119A, Kam Tin Road
2. Hong Kong African Association, Lo Uk Village, Wang Toi Shan
Google Map

So far yet so close–there is a Little Africa in Yuen Long. Among the émigrés, most came from the Igbo tribe, whose history goes all the way to prehistoric time. Over semo and egusi, we were at a loss with their priced yam. They call it “taro” in our language, but is it tapioca or something else? How can our knowledge of the African continent be almost non-existent?

Through the connections of the Hong Kong African Association, media artist Yip Kai-chun tries one foreign dish after another. Ruminating on people and an exodus, the artist builds bridges for intercultural connections.

Yip Kai-chun has a trash can stomach and dares to chow down anything. No matter how busy, he always remembers to eat. He had zero cooking experience before age 28 and couldn’t even cut ginger and cook instant noodles. Some earlier art projects got him to make rice dumplings, ground tea, amethyst jelly and Hakka yellow wine. Before On the Plain of Plenty, he had never heard of the little Africa in Yuen Long. He had tried less than a dozen of African dishes. 

https://yipkaichuns.com

A Few Moments・Youth Hub x Tang Kwok-hin: Wander

G/F, 119A, Kam Tin Road
Google Map

A Few Moments・Youth Hub was previously Kam Kwong kindergarten, attended by many present-day elders when they were little. Later, it became a Nepalese church. Eight years ago, the church teamed up with a non-profit organisation to make the space available to the neighbours. Now the refurbished yellow house is a place of worship on Sundays. On other days, it is open to the public as a youth centre and community space.

Mixed media artist Tang Kwok-hin lives in a walled village. In recent years, he has also opened doors for gatherings of people from all walks of life. On this occasion, he creates a site-specific interactive installation next door and invites guests over to reflect on the contemporary meaning of “dining together.”
 

Tang Kwok-hin grew up in a walled village in Kam Tin. Reticence cultivates a habit of remembering, feeling and knowing with the senses. Since his graduation from the Department of Fine Arts, CUHK in 2008, he has been immersed in creative environments, contemplating both life and art. In 2019, he founded 1983 to give room to exchange and dialogues among people. Food is always a medium on such occasions. It brings people together and evokes memories of numerous film and TV scenes where individuals, broken by catastrophes and seeking survival, gather around dining tables. This prompts Tang Kwok-hin to question: Why do we come together?

www.tangkwokhin.com

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