Neon Insiders

Open Call: Tai Kwun Neon Connection

Tai Kwun Conversations: Vital Signs Series

Neon Metropolis Workshop

Vital Signs

Neon Walk

Neon Insiders

Date & Time

3 - 18 Aug, 2023 Refer to programme details

Location

Ideas Studio, LG2/F, Block 01 / F Hall / Block 01 Duplex Studio & Laundry Steps

Price

Refer to programme details

General

Alongside the exhibition Vital Signs, Tai Kwun is presenting a series of Neon Insiders programmes.


The Tube-bending Craftsmanship of Neon Signs

The Tube-bending Craftsmanship of Neon Signs
Date: 18 August (Fri)
Time: 7pm – 8pm
Venue: Block 01 LG2 Ideas Studio
Ticket price: HKD 80
Speaker: Cardin Chan, Wu Chi Kai
Language: Cantonese (with simultaneous interpretation in English)
Click here to book now.

Tube bending is an important step in the production of neon signs. Starting from handling glass tubes, bombarding tubes injecting gas in the tubes, attaching electrodes, to powering up the neon sign, how do these neon craftsmen realise a design?

With less than ten remaining tube-bending masters in Hong Kong and in the face of today's technological and urban development, the market demand for neon signs is gradually dwindling. What is the current condition and the survival mechanisms of the tube-bending industry?

This sharing invites the General Manager of Tetra Neon Exchange Cardin Chan and tube-bending master Wu Chi Kai in conversation. Master Wu will reveal his tube-bending process through video documentation of his works, share his apprentice journey, as well as discuss the future of the industry and his dedication towards preserving and passing on this traditional craft.


Making of Vital Signs Guided Tour

Making of Vital Signs Guided Tour
Date: 12 - 13 August (Sat-Sun)  
Time: 2pm – 3pm  
Venue: Block 01 LG1 Duplex Studio (Vital Signs reception)  
Ticket price: Free  
Speaker: Cardin Chan (General Manager, Tetra Neon Exchange)
Language: Cantonese (12 August) & English (13 August)  
Click here to book now.

Vital Signs presents over 25 conserved neon signs and contemporary art installations, and neon installation fabrication equipment.

Behind the scenes, the Tetra Neon Exchange (TNX) team has masterminded the complex logistics of safely removing and transporting original large-scale neon signs, modified their structures, and recommissioned the signs with glass tubes, electrical systems and animation effects. What were the technical challenges faced and considerations taken by TNX face during the preparation and installation of Vital Signs?

The General Manager of TNX, Cardin Chan, will introduce several highlight exhibits displayed in the Block 01 Duplex Studio and Laundry Steps from the angle of curating the complex exhibition and sharing the bespoke installation efforts made during the making of Vital Signs.

* This guided tour includes a 15 mins section at the covered outdoor area of Laundry Steps. Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes and bring your own water and umbrella.
*The guided tour will be cancelled if the Typhoon Signal No.3 or above is hoisted or the Red/Black Rainstorm Signal is issued within 2 hours before the guided tour begins.


Vital Signs Calligraphy Masterclass

Vital Signs Calligraphy Masterclass
Date: 9 August (Wed)
Time: 7pm – 8:30pm
Venue: F-Hall Studio
Ticket price: HKD 180
Speaker: Fung Siu Wa (Wah Gor)
Language: Cantonese
Click here to book now.

The unique art of calligraphy is achieved through the weight of brushstrokes, the flow of lines, and emotional expression. The individual style of different calligraphers activates neon signs with life and dynamism.

Under the guidance of calligraphy master Wah Gor, the participants will experience writing different scripts and complete their own calligraphy. During the workshop Wah Gor will copy the characters on certain signs exhibited in Vital Signs, give insight into techniques on writing different kinds of strokes, and share his creative experience.

*Participants should have a basic understanding and experience with Chinese calligraphy.


Learning Calligraphy through Neon Signs

Learning Calligraphy through Neon Signs
Date: 3 August (Thu)
Time: 7pm – 8pm
Venue: F-Hall Studio
Ticket price: HKD 80
Speaker: Fung Siu Wa (Wah Gor)
Language: Cantonese (with simultaneous interpretation in English)
Click here to book now.

Drafting a calligraphic sketch is the first step to creating word-oriented neon signs. Different to practicing standard calligraphy, one needs to consider whether a character is producible via tube bending techniques when writing for a sign. Hence, calligraphers for neon signs need to balance aesthetics with the possibilities and limitations of neon technology.

Wah Gor has written calligraphy for the titles of many Hong Kong films and shop signs, including Ip Man (2008), Mad World (2016), Royal Plaza Hotel, and Fulum Seafood Restaurant. As a master of different calligraphic styles, he will share his knowledge on the various scripts commonly used in neon signs and the styles and calligraphers preferred by different industries, as well as his experience on writing outdoor signs for shop exteriors and his journey from being a street scribe to a master calligrapher.

Wah Gor will also demonstrate his skills in a live calligraphy session to share with the audience the traditional art of writing in ink and brush.


Speakers Bio

Cardin Chan
Fung Siu Wa
Wu Chi Kai

Since her relocation back to Hong Kong in early 2017, Cardin has devoted herself to conserving local culture and is gradually being recognized as the first and only female neon conservationist in Hong Kong. At the invitation of the founder of TNX, she joined the organization in 2020. She transmutes her unwillingness to see neon completely disappear, due to the lack of public awareness, into her main driving force. With her tenacious approach, she has moved and impelled an incremental amount of merchants, people from the local neon industry, brands, individuals, etc to come together to support Hong Kong neon. Empowering local traditional neon workers to find their own voice and positioning is one of her major long-term goals.

Fung Siu Wah, known as Wah Gor, is a renowned calligrapher in Hong Kong. Under family education and the mentorship of his father, Wah Gor developed a curiosity and love for traditional calligraphy. He made his first foray with Ming and Qing calligraphic styles, thereafter studied the calligraphy of Yuan, Song, Tang, and Jin dynasty masters. As he learnt from those before him while widely studying with contemporary teachers, he began to integrate a diverse range of styles and became particularly fond of semi-cursive and cursive scripts. With studious hard work, he established an original style of his own. Wah Gor is currently the member of Hong Kong Chinese Calligraphy Association, Hong Kong Calligraphers Organisation, and the chairman and calligraphy instructor of Wah Gor Society.

From the 1980s, Wah Gor has lent his script to the titles of many shopping malls, organizations, and film posters.

Shopping malls: Royal Plaza Hotel, Royal Park Hotel, Maxim's Palace, Fulum Seafood Restaurant, Sha Tin New Town Plaza, Kowloon Bay Telford Plaza, Ying Wa College and Ying Wa Primary School.

Film Posters: Over 50 films such as To Be Number One (1991), Fight Back to School (1991), The Lucky Guy (1998), The Legend of Master So (1982), The God of Cookery (1996), Who's the Hero (2008), Fatal Move (2008), Election 2 (2006), All for the Winner (1990). Recently also The Legend Is Born: Ip Man (2010), Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010), Shaolin (2011), Revenge: A Love Story (2010), Rigor Mortis (2013), The Mobfathers (2016), and Mad World (2016).

As a teenager, Master Wu was drawn into the world of neon and learnt his craft from some of the finest artisans of the past to become a leading light in a younger generation of craftsmen. Constantly exploring the outer limits of what’s physically and technically possible in new applications of neon, the 3D piece Head + Spectacles was created by Master Wu more than 20 years ago. He has also led Tetra Neon Exchange (TNX)’s conservation team in preparing the original Hong Kong neon signs which you will see as you explore Vital Signs.