“HIDDEN NARRATIVES: Portraits of Resilience in Hong Kong’s Migrant Domestic Helper Community” opened at Lumenvisum on Aug 20 2023

Venue Address: Lumenvisum, L2-2, JCCAC, 30 Pak Tin St, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon (Google Map to venue)

Read more about this project and view the images from this exhibition:

SCMP Article
Artist Statement and Images
Lumenvisum’s Exhibition Newsletter (PDF)



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“Evolving Territories: Hong Kong in Transition 1994-2000” (Part II) opens at HKI Gallery on 27 August, 2022

Evolving Territories – Hong Kong in Transition 1994-2000 (Part II) opens at HKI Gallery on August 27th and will be on display through October 22nd.

Venue Details: HKI Gallery, Suite 701, 7th Floor, Chinachem Johnston Plaza, 178-186 Johnston Rd, Wanchai, Hong Kong.

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 pm – 7 pm.

Map to the venue

“Evolving Territories: Hong Kong in Transition 1994-2000” (Part I) opens at HKI Gallery, Jun 28 – Jul 20, 2022

HKI Gallery presents Evolving Territories – Hong Kong in Transition 1994-2000, a photography exhibition featuring images I took between 1994 and 2000. Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the handover, this exhibition is a candid portrait of Hong Kong at a crucial historic juncture. Come by to see the pigment prints at the gallery – the show is on until July 20, 2022.

Venue Details: HKI Gallery, Suite 701, 7th Floor, Chinachem Johnston Plaza, 178-186 Johnston Rd, Wanchai, Hong Kong. Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 pm – 7 pm.

Public Art Project: Where the Hearts Meet, HKBZG (15 Jan – 9 July 2021)

15 Jan- 30 Jun 2021 at Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

View images | Map to HKZBG

Artist Statement

The year of 2021 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Gardens, which has been an escape for people who enjoy nature. The recent strolls that I made through the area were full of exciting encounters with the locals, children, domestic helpers, expatriates, and tourists. These enchanted visitors vitalized the air with their bliss. The Gardens, an ideal setting for both social and solitary life, has become a true celebration of the diverse communities and cultures that have converged throughout its history.

My childhood recollection of the Gardens consisted of nothing more than the huge aviary and primitive sounds from the wildlife. However, my repeated visits have confirmed that it is a unique and timeless place. For this exhibition I deviated from my long-standing photographic style of limited human presence, and created a series of people-centric images entitled Where the Hearts Meet. They explore the remarkable geographical settings of this urban oasis and its special connection with visitors. I believe that the intrinsic value of the Gardens lies in its power to nurture different lives and relationships, generation after generation. This project honors the Gardens, an essential part of Hong Kong, which provides all that is needed to connect our hearts.

About the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens was the site of the government house during the city’s early development. It was officially opened to the public in 1871 and is the oldest garden in the territory.

The Gardens occupies an area of 5.6 hectares (14 acres). At the southern entrance is a memorial arch and a granite arch dedicated to the Chinese who died assisting the Allies during the two world wars. A bronze statue of King George VI was erected in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of British colonial rule over Hong Kong.

Apart from housing century-old historic monuments, old and valuable trees and other exotic flora, the Gardens is also the home to various endangered species of birds, mammals, and reptiles.

About the Project

For the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens the Art Promotion Office launched a yearlong public art project, ‘Hi! Flora, Fauna’ to celebrate the event.

The artist, Gretchen So, was commissioned to explore stories about the Gardens and the relationship between humans and nature. The result of her work is a series of photographs, most of which are displayed on both sides of the steps leading to the Bronze Statue of King George VI, creating a spectacular outdoor gallery. The remaining works are nested in different trails where the landscape of the photos intertwines with that of the surrounding environment, allowing visitors to roam freely between the imagery and reality during their leisurely strolls.

This project began just before the early outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the following year, many visitors flocked to the Gardens because of the closures of many businesses. People from all walks of life engaged in various unusual activities, which were captured in the artist’s photographs.

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‘HOMES’, a solo exhibition by Gretchen So, opens at Lumenvisum on Dec 9, 2016

Browse images from ‘HOMES’

Exhibition Period: 9- 31  Dec, 2016
VenueLumenvisum, L2-10, JCCAC, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon (Closed Mondays and Public Holidays)

Homes”, a solo exhibition by art photographer Gretchen So, explores the harmony and contradiction between the ideal and the norm of the living culture in North American society in the 1990s.

The featured images of domestic environments are psychological portraits of their inhabitants. The exhibition prompts viewers to question the context of the interiors, speculate on the background of the owners, or even imagine the character of those remote occupants.

At the exhibition venue, the images are grouped into virtual rooms, separated by decorative panels, serving as “walls”. I see a wall not only as a physical structure that encloses or divides a space, but also as a display board of occupants’ individual values, intertwining tastes, and past experiences.

Enjoy the “Homes” and please feel free to share your thoughts with me via www.gretchenso.com/contact/

Gretchen So’s “Ten Thousand Messages” featured at Hong Kong Heritage Museum

View Images from the series “10,000 Messages” >

Gretchen So is participating in the Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2016, themed “What Do You Want For Tomorrow?”.

The exhibition takes place at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1/F Thematic Galleries 1 & 2, from 10 August 2016 until 26 September 2016. The festival is presented by the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, and is a partnership project with Hong Kong Heritage Museum of Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

“Whether it is due to suburban development or city modernization, people in Hong Kong live in a constantly evolving environment. Can we just reminisce the past? Or should we look forward to the future? Do we gain more than we lose during the process? I have been photographing extensively in Hong Kong for over two decades. Passing through the streets of the city, I strive to capture the ever-changing scenes of our environment. My images serve as witnesses of our time, and may assist the future generations to answer these questions.

Along with photos of urban landscapes in Hong Kong, in this installation I also include images I recently took at night for the very first time around Central and Sheung Wan. Instead of a caption, there is a QR code next to each photograph, which leads to an assigned online discussion page. I invite viewers to post there a relevant title for each image. Viewers can share their insights, and discuss various issues related to the images in this forum. The traditional experience of attending an art exhibition is then combined with the modern “Mobile-and-Social” lifestyle of engaged citizens. The ultimate goal of the exhibition is to reach the juncture, where Art Photography, Mobile Technology, Social Media, and User Engagement interconnect.”

Gretchen So

My Stereoviews

Stereoviews_Gretchen_So_and_Stanley_Wong_at_LumenvisumSeveral years in a row Tse Ming Chong, Founder of Lumenvisum, asked me to participate in the Artist and Photographer Conversation Series. My routine response was that I had no time and was not ready. Indeed, I had a fairly busy schedule when I first relocated back to Hong Kong. Yet the main reason of my rejection to his proposal was my fear of having to delve into my old work or to make art for a predetermined project.

I began seriously taking pictures in the summer of 1990 and have collected tens of thousands of images ever since.  The film cameras that I have tried range from Minox subminiature camera, Diana box camera, Seagull/Pearl River twin lens reflex, Nikon SLR, Mamiya RZ67 to Calumet and Graflex Speed Graphic. A photographer’s working method to a large extent reflects a technique as much as a temperament. I eventually settled on a medium format film camera. Continue reading “My Stereoviews”

“Stereoviews”: A Conversation between Gretchen So and Stanley Wong

View project images

Streoviews Exhibition OpeningExhibition opens on 15 February 2014 (Saturday), at Lumenvisum; Artist Sharing at 4pm; Opening at 6pm

Lumenvisum proudly announces that artist Stanley Wong (a.k.a. anothermountainman) and photographer Gretchen So are participants of this year’s “Conversation between Artist and Photographer Series IV”. Continue reading ““Stereoviews”: A Conversation between Gretchen So and Stanley Wong”

Gretchen So shortlisted as one of the finalists for the 2011 Sovereign Asian Art Prize

SAFGretchen So was selected as one of the finalists in the 2011 Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Her work “Pigeon” (51cm x 76 cm, Archival Inkjet Print) was exhibited in January 2012 at the Arts and Science Museum at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and in February at The Rotunda, Exchange Square in Hong Kong. The art piece was auctioned off at charity auction dinner on February 17, 2012 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong. The event was attended by 360 guests, and total proceeds from the art auction exceeded USD270,000.

The Sovereign Asian Art Prize was initiated in 2003 when the Sovereign Art Foundation was established as a charity in Hong Kong.

Radio Interview with Gretchen So

Headstorm Industry, a mobile radio, interviewed Gretchen So who talked about how she began her artistic life 20 years ago. It also introduced the images she took of the World Trade Center in the early 1990s. More content about how she got into Yale School of Art, The charm of the World Trade Center, A love story, a family and a closure after 20 years.

Down, an essay by art critic John Batten

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Image ref #: 92-55-01 001

I have never visited New York. Nor, of course, have billions of other people in the world.

I certainly can’t speak for them, but I suspect any person exposed to American culture and its exports would share some of the following thoughts.

My impression of New York City and its buildings have been entirely constructed in my mind; fuzzy impressions from books, films, television and photographs. The Manhattan skyline: a mountain range of high-rises. The Statue of Liberty: adrift on an island. Abstract Expressionism/New York School: de Kooning; Gaston; Pollack, Motherwell et al. The city’s great museums: many, but the Guggenheim’s spiral is the only interior I can recall. Parks: there is Central Park, but any others? Of course, Henry James’ Washington Square: its park. Continue reading “Down, an essay by art critic John Batten”

Black & White Photography Exhibition Commemorates the Twin Towers

View New York 10048 images

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NY 10048: The World Trade Center in Early 1990s“, featuring subtle black-and-white images by Hong Kong photographer Gretchen So, opens on Sept 2nd at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and the Fringe Club in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG, August 1, 2011 — This September, recognizing the ominous 10-year anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, Hong Kong photographer Gretchen So presents her exhibition entitled “NY 10048: The World Trade Center in Early 1990s”

As a stunning tribute to the American Dream, the World Trade Center complex in New York was a popular photography subject. And just when one would think the world has seen the Twin Towers from every possible angle, the black and white images of Gretchen So re-discover them for the audience, yet again, as a powerful reminder of the artistic merit of these glass-and-aluminum-alloy pillars of modern times. Continue reading “Black & White Photography Exhibition Commemorates the Twin Towers”

If You Park Here: Curatorial Statement by Dr. Tang Ying Chi

This exhibition incorporates a diverse range of creative media, showing the works of eight individual artists. Some of these works are site specific. A parking lot acts as the main body and the artworks are parasites on it – through this temporal relationship the exhibition investigates the notion of power and conditions for co-existence.

‘If You Park Here’ uses a parking lot as the exhibition space. The traditional white slots have been, over the past few years, replaced by non-profit organisations, artist studios, shopping malls and outdoor spaces. The car park, although it only participates in a one-off exhibition, is selected as an alternative space for its public stance, its state of mobility, its characteristics of transparency and the experience that it brings to globalisation. This exhibition may create another kind of attention for local art, which has always been perceived or debated upon as being ‘non-mainstream’ or ‘personal’ Continue reading “If You Park Here: Curatorial Statement by Dr. Tang Ying Chi”

Thematic exhibition “If You Park Here” presented by Fotanian Open Studios 2010

If-You-Park-HereI live in Wan Chai, where I often encounter a large vinyl banner with an image of a serene path leading into the woods. The beautiful scene of nature not only adds green tones to the hustle-bustle grey surroundings, it also conceals the trash collection centre behind it. Continue reading “Thematic exhibition “If You Park Here” presented by Fotanian Open Studios 2010″

Borrowed Places, Borrowed Times

Exhibition: Vertical Cities
Documenting Hong Kong and Vancouver
Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
July 21 – August 22, 1999

The Rhetoric of the Visual in Vancouver and Hong Kong Photography

By Trevor Boddy | Published by Charles H. Scott Gallery

The ocean between them is not reason enough to think of Hong Kong and Vancouver as anything but sister cities. Unusual among world cities, both urban centres are artificial creations of the 19th century, rather than organic continuations of settlements many centuries older. Hong Kong was created as a British mercantile enclave out of an archipelago of pirate-ridden islands and tiny fishing villages as a part of the negotiations that ended the Opium War. Vancouver was invented as a land development scheme by the Canadian Pacific Railway Lands Department in the late 1870s in order to maximize returns on their peninsular location of a western terminus for their line-courtesy of a gift of extensive government lands -rather than share speculative profit with existing land owners in such older, established towns as New Westminster or Port Moody.

The very names of each city are somewhat problematic, revealing the contingencies of their invention, nor evolution. Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour” in Chinese, a double-baited marketing hook not unlike the Chinese characters meaning “golden mountain” ascribed identically to California, Australia, British Columbia and elsewhere to help expedite emigration of Chinese gold prospectors and railroad labourers. For the 19m-century flow of labour that anticipated today’s borderless flows of capital, the actual differences between these employment destinations mattered little. The CPR Lands Department and government officials insisted on calling their new creation “Vancouver” for its sentimental appeal to potential property investors in Britain and Eastern Canada, who had become unsettled over the previous two decades during which the British Pacific colonies had repeatedly threatened to join the United States. They did this knowing full well that a thriving and much older town with the same name existed 300 miles away in Washington State, a town founded, in fact, by Canadians when it was an outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Continue reading “Borrowed Places, Borrowed Times”

Hong Kong Now!

Exhibition: Hong Kong Now!
Anderson Gallery, School of the Arts
Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia, USA

Essay by Robert Hobbs, The Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University

Gretchen So’s years of study, first as an undergraduate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and then in the Yale University graduate program in New Haven, Connecticut, have provided her with the vision to undertake the project of chronicling change in Hong Kong over a several year period. A color photographer who prefers to work with a medium-format SLR camera, because of the clarity of detail it offers. The commercial subtext provided by this film is a crucial component of her work that transforms the environs of Hong Kong into its simulacra. Continue reading “Hong Kong Now!”