Faye Wei Wei, who was named ‘one to watch’ by British Vogue last year, has created an artwork using neon in collaboration with one of the city’s last remaining neon sign masters.
British artist Faye Wei Wei has strong ties to Hong Kong.
“It’s where my parents grew up and I have wonderful childhood memories of summers spent here, intertwined with a hazy nostalgia,” says the 25-year-old Londoner, who was named “one to watch” by British Vogue last year.
She also loves Hong Kong’s “breathing neon”, so much so that she used it in her artwork Frail Silver of the Climbing Stars (2019). Her first neon piece, it was created in collaboration with 85-year-old Ah Lung, one of the city’s last remaining neon-sign masters.
Wei Wei, who graduated from the University College London’s Slade School of Fine Art, says her piece is aimed at starting a conversation about preserving heritage and culture in the city.
“I wanted to create something that paid respect to the city’s history with neon,” she says.
From the 1950s to the 80s, the use of neon signs exploded in the city as businesses adopted a “bigger and brighter is better” philosophy to advertising.
At its height, the city had more that 100,000 neon signs. But changing building codes, evolving tastes and the high cost of maintaining neon signs have resulted in businesses switching to cheaper, more efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Faye Wei Wei’s piece will be on show at the British Council, 3 Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, until June. It will be auctioned later in the year by Phillips, with proceeds going toward a British Council project to nurture Hong Kong’s young creative talent.