Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Hong Kong’s Painted Highrises


Reluctant pose with my mural before rushing to the Macau ferry

I’ve just returned to Sydney from five fun and frenetic days in my favorite Chinese city: Hong Kong, and launched my latest collaborative project with ThingsAsian Press, the photo book Lost & Found: HK. I was also invited to contribute to a mural for the DETOUR creative festival. The festival was held in an unusual venue: the run-down barracks for families of local police officers. Some of these tiny apartments still have traces of the families who lived there. Haunted decrepit buildings? That’s my kind of place.

I painted my section with golden lettering that blazes from a rich red background: “PEACE = HARD WORK”.  Haraya is a Hong Kong-based group of Filipino painters and media artists I’ve met through the Mural Society. The recent journalist massacres in Maguindanao were on all our minds. I thought of how difficult peace is to achieve between countries, and of the 20th century de facto American colonization of the Philippines. And of how rare peace is within homes, within ourselves. Most of all, I thought of how I best find my own peace: by working day and night for a creative goal.


Looking up at the highrises surrounding us at the police barracks, I decided to paint illuminated buildings of Hong Kong at night. Tower blocks were a favorite subject of my painting students in Hong Kong, and the dominant feature of their daily landscape.


The Haraya artists hard at work painting their way through the weekend. More photos of the mural-painting and DETOUR  installations here.

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