By Tammy Kwan
Completed in November 2003, Lucia N.Y. Cheung’s glass mosaic mural titled “Home With A View” has been available for public admiration inside the Central MTR station the past twelve years. This commissioned piece of public artwork spans 2.8 meters in height and 17 meters in length. The mural is hard to miss, considering it’s relatively large size. Yet with the hustling and bustling lifestyle in Hong Kong, many people walk past it everyday without noticing it’s silent existence.
When one actually takes the time to stop and look at this mosaic mural, you realize that the mural is comprised of thousands of different colored stones in varying shapes and sizes. Each is intricately placed in a specific location, to create the picture that the artist wants to illustrate. According to the artist’s concept, this mural is supposed to depict the theme of community and the home. When your face is close to the mural, all you see are little stones. As you step back, you will then see that these stones tell a story.
“That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of our Home,” said Cheung in her artist’s concept.
Cheung’s artwork often illustrates the contrast between tradition and modernity in her hometown, Hong Kong. In this mosaic mural, the modern buildings and skyscrapers of Hong Kong are faintly seen in the background. The main focus of the mural are the landscapes, birds, plants, and flowers—including bamboo, which one would typically see in traditional Chinese paintings. The mosaic mural itself is meant to replicate Chinese scroll paintings, and even has the traditional Chinese artist stamp on the very right side of the piece of artwork.
The Chinese flora and landscape amidst a background of modern Hong Kong buildings emphasizes the contrast between the past and the present. It is almost as if Cheung wants people to not forget about the humble beginnings of Hong Kong. Some critics have said that Cheung’s approach to art is seen as her “unwillingness to forsake China’s cultural past, the roots of Hong Kong people.” One can also say that Cheung merely wants her artwork to evoke critical thinking about why most modern Hong Kong citizens don’t care about the city’s past.
This mosaic mural was most likely commissioned to take up some empty space in the MTR station, so the walls wouldn’t look so naked and bare. Yet a decade and a bit later, this piece of artwork should be a wake up call for Hong Kong people. The first step to understanding and embracing tradition and culture should be to appreciate cultural symbols. Cheung’s mosaic mural is one of them. Now, all people have to do is walk a bit slower when they come out of the MTR train, and take a moment to appreciate this artwork made entirely of little stones.