The 67-year-old deftly cuts a plank coming from a massive log using a storey-high band saw. “We are among the few, otherwise the sole, people still doing it in Hong Kong,” he tells visitors.
It absolutely was a thrill to discover Wong at your workplace and tour his ten thousand sq ft sawmill, chock-a-block with assorted logs of different species, age and sizes. But just a couple of decades ago, timber businesses like Chi Kee were common.
Wong and his awesome seven siblings matured playing in their father’s lumber yard, Chi Kee Sawmill & Timber, which began operations in North Point in 1947 before relocating to Chai Wan and then its current site in 1982.
Although the timber business in Hong Kong has steadily declined in recent decades as cheap, Furniture shop in Hong Kong became easily available and manufacturing shifted to mainland China. Chi Kee is really a rare survivor in the twilight industry.
This has given Wong much more time for his personal quest for sculpture and carpentry. However, he has become a lot busier lately after his business arrived at public attention as the first slated to become cleared for the controversial North East New Territories Development Plan.
Intrigued artists and design students begun to seek him out as being a previously untapped resource on local wood crafts, and in a short time he was receiving school visits and holding woodworking workshops.
Whilst the fate of his factory is uncertain (he hopes being relocated to a suitable site), Wong is delighted it has been drawing a lot buzz.
“These are typically crafts and livelihoods worth preserving,” he says. “We need to look at a society’s sustainability; setting up buildings is only able to take you up to now.
“When I’m too busy to hold workshops and such, I share my knowledge on our Facebook page which my daughter setup for me personally. I discuss everything, from what several types of wood are ideal for to the way you use different tools and also the wisdom behind techniques such as mortise and tenon joints [when a cavity is cut into a piece of timber to slot in another having a protruding ‘tongue’]. The page is now quite popular.”
However, artist Wong Tin-yan attributes the desire for Chi Kee along with its owner all the to a revival in woodworking among younger Hongkongers as opposition on the government’s development plan and support for small enterprises.
An art form complete Chinese University, Wong Tin-yan credits outfits including street art collective Start From Zero and SiFu Wood Works best for promoting craftsmanship and curiosity about woodworking, especially among young people.
Lung Man-chuen of Mr Lung’s Wood Workshop is a pioneer of this movement. The 83-year-old master craftsman started running classes with the aid of St James’ Settlement, and it has since rekindled many people’s appreciation of traditional wood crafts. Now, Lung’s new workshop directly into Kwa Wan teems with students wanting to learn how to make basic furniture pieces, like a rustic, nail-free bench. On the list of latest to talk about their delight and data about handcrafted items is Saturn Wood Workshop, started by two graduates from Baptist University.
Wong Tin-yan, too, helped fuel the renewed desire for working with wood. He started creating large-scale animal sculptures using pieces of discarded wood while still at university. His school was under renovation at that time, which gave him use of plenty of discarded planks and pallets. The piles of rejects reminded him of animal skeletons, Wong says, and that he has since created various installations to the Hong Kong Art Biennial, malls, museums and art galleries.
These are generally crafts and livelihoods worth preserving. We need to think about society’s sustainability; placing buildings is only able to help you get to date.
“In addition, i produce a indicate host [woodworking] workshops at schools. I want students to sense of themselves specially in this materialistic world what it’s prefer to make one’s own furniture,” he says. “To generate is a human instinct and there’s a lot of enjoyment available as a result. Customers are so bored with the homogeneity [of what’s available] they crave something different. They really want something unique and creating your very own is amongst the ways. And creating is additionally among the best methods to challenge society’s existing or mainstream value.”
For the past 2 yrs, Wong Tin-yan has been specifically bringing about a fortnightly column on woodworking for Ming Pao Sunday, introducing different artisanal brands and crafts individuals Hong Kong and Taiwan, where there is also a surging curiosity about wood.
Unlike Taiwan, however, Hong Kong lacks a good chain of supply and demand. Woodrite, a non-profit organisation which collaborates with designers and veteran carpenters to make Dining table Hong Kong to acquire using recycled wood, is definitely the nearest achieving a sustainable business structure.
“Naturally, we can’t return to making everything by hand due to labour cost and efficiency, but mass-produced products from international brands are not always durable and seldom takes into consideration the small homes and humidity in Hong Kong,” Wong Tin-yan says. “The greatest thing is usually to have choices from both worlds in order that each person’s preference may be met with a relevant choice. And it doesn’t matter everything you choose, but knowing the distinction between them and why there’s this kind of difference inside the asking price is essential.”
Start From Zero is never lacking enthusiastic people hoping to grab a trick or two at founder Dominic Chan Yun-wai’s woodwork classes, run through its S.F.Z Untechnic Department.
Inspired by US street artist Shepard Fairey, the self-taught Chan started his street art initiative in 2000. Over time, the crew, including artist Katol Lo, makes an identity with regard to their stencil art, cool T-shirt designs and guerilla stickers.
And just as he became totally hooked on street art, Chan fell crazy about wood after he started collecting junk wood and using it in the work.
“By far the most appealing thing about woodworking is that whatever I feel of I will construct it immediately. It’s this sort of versatile material and there are numerous ways for you to handle it,” he says.
As his skills improved, Chan started receiving orders to help make furniture and make installations at events including Clockenflap and Detour creative showcase.
They have also hosted irregular workshops at Rat’s Cave, the crew’s now-defunct shop in Sheung Wan. These proved so well liked he has setup a regular agenda for short- or long term projects, making from a basic clothes hanger to coffee tables, mirror frames and stools in the studio space in a Ngau Tau Kok industrial building.
Chan says he would not be surprised if woodworking ended up being a passing fad – lots of people just subscribe to one class, viewing it an entertaining gathering with friends with dexopky64 bonus of the cool piece of bar stool HK to adopt home. But Chan believes that is certainly not always a bad thing.
“Away from 10 individuals who were intrigued enough to take up street art, at least two have kept doing the work. I’ve been at it in the past 20 years and I’m more keen about it than before.”
Concerning his obsession with woodworking, Chan suspects it can remain with him for at least 10 years. It’s the medium he is spending nearly all of his time on. And the man is confident once people try their hand at their own personal wood project, they are going to fall for the beauty and deeper meaning behind each item.
“Once the last Clockenflap we were required to dismantle this wooden house we designed for the case but we saved the wood for other uses. Among those doors now hangs during my room in your house. I also produced a stool for myself following the event – so this stool is similar to it provides experienced the first and second world wars before arriving within my flat. It offers countless stories behind it,” he says. “It’s like, between a piece you made with your own hands and another bought from Ikea, which may you get rid of first?”
Advocates of your more laid-back lifestyle, the organisers offer a range of urban farming and craft workshops, including sessions on wood carving and turning, to make forks, spoons and rings.