Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Tree of Exceptions

Thanks to the invitation of Pimary art residency in Hong Kong's New Territories, I have the chance to explore the rural side of our city, and its unique histories. My new project, "Tree of Exceptions", will be a large-scale painting installation two storeys high of tree roots, trunks and limbs.

Vandyke and Cyanotype photosensitive inks will be imprinted with the memories of people from Hong Kong villages near the Chinese border.

An exploration of place, rootedness, and returning home.

2017-03-05 17.33.20

Mr. Leung examines a fan listing Chinese dynasties to pinpoint the date of his family's arrival in the village (around 1644, beginning of the Qing dynasty). The Hakka were banished to the mountains and the seas of China by northern Qing emperors. "We didn't choose this place for any particular reason to create a village, we just migrated until there was food, and then we stopped." — in Lo Tsz Tin, Hong Kong.

2017-03-05 17.54.57

Mrs. Shum moved here from Guangdong 20 years ago to join her husband, whose family comes from the village. "People used to gather here, outside in the lanes chatting. We would eat together in the open area near the village hall. Our doors were always open wide, never locked. Life is different now." Her husband passed away a few months ago. She gave us passion fruits from her garden, tangy and sweet.

2017-03-11 17.56.43

Mr. Shek ("Mr. Stone") and his wife moved to this fishing village 40 years ago, when the island where they'd grown up was immersed by a reservoir (Plover Cove). Ever since, they've run this wonton shop twelve hours a day, six days a week. Their soup's pungent with the fish dried and ground to flavor it. All their ingredients are handmade, of the old style no longer easily found in HK. Though their children are grown and they no longer need to work, they have no plans to stop. "If we didn't have this restaurant, we wouldn't know what to do." Photo and translation by Chen Kai Ping. — in Sam Mun Tsai, Hong Kong.

2017-03-16 18.24.48

Master Li Chuen Lam shows Kai Ping a book of Hakka Kung fu masters in which he's included. Though Master Li's ancestors were among the founders of the village three and a half centuries ago, his family couldn't afford the HK $10/month for kung fu lessons, so he started learning by watching others. Among many other things, he is officially authorized to teach the Unicorn Dance.


A fisherman in the village of Sam Mun Tsai contributes his signature to the project


Carman works seven days a week. On weekends, she runs an organic farm, Shan Ha Long Cheong 


Photos of the installation as a work-in-progress here.

The project reviewed in the South China Morning Post.

Completed installation photos here

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