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Hong Kong in a Sketchbook

By Sophie Pettit 26 November 2014

Art imitating life.

  We’ve seen the diverse beauty of Hong Kong captured in stunning photographs and numerous time lapse videos, but for one local artist, a sketchbook and box of watercolours are all he needs to bring the charm of our city to life. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Gary Yeung has spent the last four years channelling his lifelong passion for drawing into creating vivid and intricate sketches of the city’s urban landscapes, each one featuring objects and people he finds relevant. In his recent video ‘Sketching Central’, Yeung captures the atmosphere of some of the inner city’s most cherished hotspots, gradually bringing each scene to life as he adds splashes of colour to his black and white sketches. From the hustle and bustle of Elgin Street and Des Voeux Road, to the blissful green oasis of Hong Kong Park and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, Yeung depicts life in the city, often capturing iconic landmarks such as the Peak Tram on Kennedy Road and various famous buildings. Delving even deeper into the identity of his home city, Yeung touches on political milestones, throwing himself in the midst of the "Hongkongese protest against the dissolution of the Hong Kong-China border" outside the Legislative Council buildings on June 27th and the landmark Central Rally on July 1st to create his masterpieces.

From peace to action, Yeung conveys the diversity of Hong Kong life.

  “Sketching on site allows me to observe closely the subject matter before me which allows me to understand better,” Yeung told Localiiz. “Different from photography, which only requires a click on camera or a smartphone, sketching normally requires me to spend an hour or two in front of the scene I sketch, lots of observation and thinking are done in the process.” With his sketchbook and watercolours always by his side, Yeung is ready to capture any scene that strikes him at any time, which is probably just as well given the ever-changing nature of the city that he fears may eventually lose its cultural heritage. “I find sketching the city on site a very meaningful thing to do as our city is changing so rapidly,” he observed. “Old districts are being redeveloped and many precious things such as old architecture, old communities, and shops are disappearing at alarming speed and being replaced by large malls and chain stores. I feel the need to record all these before it's too late and hopefully, more and more locals will voice their opposition to the current way of development."

Yeung and his sketchbook get to work.

  And it’s not just the city that is evolving. When Yeung is not out and about sketching the city, or teaching visual art to primary school students, he continues to hone his skills by taking oil painting lessons from Russian painter Anastassia Katafygiotis, who owns a studio in picturesque Sai Kung, where Yeung has lived for the past 17 years, away from the bustle of urban Hong Kong. It seems Yeung’s skills are limitless. His natural artistic flair not only earned him a diploma in Fine Arts with distinction at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, it also led him to become an illustrator for children’s books, university publications, magazine covers, and murals. He was also invited to participate in the SINO Citywalk, Take a Break with Art Mural and Art Jam, and the Central Oasis Mural Project organised by the Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority. Click here to see more of Yeung’s timeless creations or join him on his latest sketching adventure on his blog.  
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Sophie Pettit


Sophie is always on the lookout for a great story and her next big adventure and loves nothing more than discovering the city’s hidden gems—and most delicious cocktails. When she’s not exploring new places, she’s off travelling and ticking countries off her bucket list.