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Art Student Preserves Spirit of Old Hong Kong in Miniature Noodle Shop

Vicky Fan

When talented young art student Vicky Fan heard that her grandfather’s noodle shop was going to be demolished by a large property company, her heart sank. Like so many traditional businesses in Hong Kong, the shop that held all her childhood memories had been defeated by modernisation and was about to disappear forever, taking with it a slice of the city’s heritage and spirit that has thrived for generations. Desperate to keep her precious memories alive, Vicky took it upon herself to preserve them in the most extraordinary way, by recreating a miniature model of the shop that would live forever. Now she is here to tell her story to Localiiz.

“We will be closing soon.” This is the sentence I heard most recently from my uncle, the owner of Chun Kee. Chun Kee, located in Sai Wan Ho, is an old Hong Kong style and traditional Guangdong noodle retailing shop founded by my grandfather. I grew up in Chun Kee so the shop not only gave me memories of mouth-watering Guangdong noodles, it also gave me happy childhood memories; I have a special attribution and affection for Chun Kee.

When my uncle said “A property company is discussing buying our shop and we have decided to sell it as no one will inherit our business”, the memories of my childhood such as trying to make noodles and learning how to wrap a wonton with my dad flew into my mind.

This building and my family’s shop will be knocked down for new developments. The destruction of this piece of Hong Kong’s and my family’s history is heartbreaking. As I have taken for granted its existence, I feel sad to know of its closing. It not only occupied most of my childhood memories, it also attributes to the city’s memory. I felt that if I did not do something to preserve at least the memory of Chun Kee in visual form, it would be gradually forgotten and all we would have left in our family would be some black and white photographs. Therefore, I decided to preserve these valuable memories in a lively and remarkable way—making a miniature, which I had not tried before.

This is part of my International Baccalaureate Art course at Kiangsu-Chekiang College (International Section) where my theme is the preservation and recording of vintage Hong Kong, highlighting the destruction of our history through new developments and the making of money. Throughout the working process, I only had a few old Chun Kee photos, which are in monotone only, for referencing, so I kept asking my dad and uncle about the details of Chun Kee 40 years ago. Finally, I created Chun Kee in 1:10 in details such as the dried noodles put in large glass bottles and the traditional oil noodle boxes, which have disappeared in Hong Kong. All the details of Chun Kee are made according to its outlook 40 years ago.

Chun Kee is just one of the examples of traditional and historic aspects being wiped from our city. These vintage buildings, shops, and traditions record the development and the memory of Hong Kong. If we do not try to preserve them, the collective memories and the traditional value of Hong Kong will gradually be forgotten.

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