A farewell gift – street art on 13th floor


Taken at Work In Progress at Somerset House, Taikoo Place

Witnessing urbanization for long, city dwellers are familiar with a phenomenon: when one falls, another rises. Swire knows it well. After over two decades in service, Somerset House in Taikoo Place is soon to be pulled down, making Somerset demolition an opportunity for ephemeral art. They invited a group of local and overseas artists “from the street” and mounted a street art exhibition, Work In Progress, at the loading bay and on the whole 13th floor as a farewell gift to Somerset House.

Taking the advantage of working close by, I spent my lunchtime there (please don’t have lunch there or one would swallow chemicals and dusts). From the loading bay where the exhibition began, I followed the path of yellow paint drips to the cargo lift.


Inside a cargo lift by Cyrcle

A lift greeted me with bold statements painted by Cyrcle: We don’t see colours. We see stereotypes! We left our families… We gave our hearts… We followed our dreams. Indeed, to me, their works were an impactful manifestation.


Two sculptures, gun and bow-and-arrow, pointing at each other created an opposing tension. Juxtaposing on one side of the wall was Cowboys and Indians painted in patriotic red, white and blue. Another wall featured a work by Vhils and Cyrcle – Cowboy with the word FALL and Indian with the word RISE. Leaving pieces of concrete on the floor reiterated the theme of progression and echoed the fall of Somerset and the rise of a Grade-A office complex. I saw conflict – between not only races, but also old and new, poor and rich, gay and religious, social activist and police, patriot and liberalist. I then recalled the message, “We see stereotypes.”


Vhils and Cyrcle: Rise and Fall

Cannonball Press featured a tornado-shaped installation as described in the digital brochure. It is, to me, like a chandelier, the only piece of furniture left behind in this deserted office. Talking about office, I believe most visitors worked in nearby offices and came during lunch hour like me.  I would recommend a video work located inside a dark room. The exotic song (like in Portuguese or Spanish) along with spiral-moving images would surely send you to a Mediterranean dream in 5 minutes.


Work by Cannonball Press

In case you want to know more after this satisfying recharge, a digital brochure includes a street art location map and a list of jargons for educational purpose. Those examples will let you realize street art on the street takes nerve. If you have guts, it’d be equally challenging to play with Post-It, marker pens and office partition wall in a dozy afternoon.

Work In Progress

Visited on Jun 17, 2013 at Somerset House, Taikoo Place

The article was also posted at The House News.


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