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Humans of Hong Kong: Leafing through life with Inkgo Lam

By Nicole Hurip 22 June 2020

Welcome to Humans of Hong Kong, a brand-new story series on Localiiz that takes a deeper look at the many colourful characters and unique personalities that call our beloved city home. Leaf artist Inkgo Lam invites us into her home and shares how the leaves of the ginko tree guided her through life like the hand of fate. 

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"I was still in college the first time I did leaves—I was a year two student going on to year three, studying fine arts at CUHK. So now what I’m doing aligns with my major back then. During the summer of that year, I was very unhappy. But fortunately, I got a chance to intern at the The National Art Museum of China in Beijing. There, I saw a ginko leaf on the floor for the first time – it’s a pretty rare leaf in Hong Kong, so it was my first time seeing it then and I didn’t even know it’s called ginko. I just thought that its shape was really unique, so I rushed back to my office and created a piece of artwork."

"I had the biggest art exhibition yet with my school in my third year of university after I came back from my Beijing internship. The exhibition's theme was about romance, and I used ginko leaves to signal my contact information on my business card. Leaving business cards is a common thing for artists to do.

My then-to-be husband came to the exhibition to help his friend set up, but in a miraculous turn of events, he picked up my card and we basically started dating after the exhibition. The whole process only took two weeks. I found out later on that he first got to know me after seeing my work. I think this is pretty interesting because usually you get to know people first by talking to them, but my husband knew me first through my art.

One of the artwork in the exhibition was a love letter for me written by my future husband accompanied by a visual made of leaves. This was just imaginary then, but now I feel as if this letter drew my husband to me. It was almost like it was meant to be.

It feels like ginko leaves give me a kind of energy; when I was unhappy, ginko leaves motivated me and brought excitement into my life. It also brought to me a fateful connection with my now husband."

"Even though mom never did art herself, she always appreciated it. We really bond in this aspect. She also loves DIY. When I was young, she would handmake clothes, bags and accessories for me, anything she can DIY she would do it. This is a creative inspiration for me, because now I feel that things that are handmade carry more weight and feeling to them—this may probably be her greatest influence on me. Now that I’m older, mom would understand the message behind my artwork. This is very important to me. She wouldn’t think things like 'I’m not sure you can sell this' or question 'How are you going to develop and be successful in the future?'. I think that’s really good."

"I went to the St. John’s Cathedral in Central, where there’s a huge tree in front of the church. As I’m collecting leaves, I would imagine myself as the tree listening to people’s devout prayers every day, witnessing people’s relationship with religion and the building; I find this very interesting.

"I feel that different religions are able to take root in Hong Kong, and enjoy mutual respect. For example, I’m not familiar with Islam, but I really appreciate their architecture and want them to continue staying here. This is my impression of Hong Kong, and also my hope, that it will always stay this way.

The essence of melding different things isn’t about stripping away each other’s unique characteristics, but that they can hold on to what makes them different, and still remain close friends."

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Nicole Hurip

Travel editorial director

Never content with sitting still, Nicole has turned her passion into a career. Hong Kong is her home, but she’ll always have a soft spot for L.A. and London, where she spent her college years. She loves exploring hidden places, hunting for cool vintage pieces, and talking to interesting people. Her vices include consuming excessive amounts of wine and cheese, a debilitating weakness for sparkly things, and spending too much time on Instagram.