Hong Kong’s Blue Lotus Gallery is launching a new “HK UNSEEN” exhibition to showcase the city’s “golden age” captured by Canadian photographer Greg Girard, who spent the 1980s roaming its streets.

Kai Tak Airport’s single runway, Hong Kong 1988
Kai Tak Airport, 1988. Cathay 747-300 waiting to depart while CAAC Airbus lands on Kai Tak’s single runway. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

“I first visited Hong Kong in 1974, and made several subsequent visits before moving to the city in 1982, and based until 1998,” said the photographer, who arrived for the first time at the age of 18 on a freighter from San Francisco.

Chow Yun Fat on The Eighth Happiness Tsim Sha Tsui 1987
Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat on comedy film “The Eighth Happiness.” Tsim Sha Tsui, 1987. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Most of the photographs were made before I became a professional photographer, and they show the Hong Kong I explored without any thought to how the pictures might be seen or where they might end up.”

Woman at tram stop, Central, 1985
A Hong Kong woman at a tram stop in Central,1985. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.
Club Gold Star Wan Chai
Club Gold Star in Wan Chai, 1993. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

The exhibition features glimpses of Hong Kong through Girard’s lens that have never been displayed before. Jam-packed trams, an ocean of neon signs, passenger jets that skimmed low over Kowloon and a busy bar in Wan Chai – the organisers hope the showcase will “transport [viewers] back to the 80s, reliving the memories of times now long gone.”

Student reading, Hong Kong 1980s
A Hong Kong student reading in the 1980s. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.
Wan Loy Teahouse, Mongkok, 1985
Wan Loy Teahouse in Mong Kok, 1985. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

“Like any ‘golden age’ you don’t realise you were living in it until much later,” said Girard. “Perhaps the 1980s were special because popular culture, particularly the films but also the music, played such a huge role in defining what Hong Kong was at the time.”

Woman getting off tram, Central, Hong Kong 1990
A photo shot in 1990 shows a Hong Kong woman getting off a tram in Central. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.
Kai Tak airport June 1989
Arriving Kai Tak airport from Beijing in June 1989. Photo: Greg Girard, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

HK UNSEEN begins on November 10 and runs until December 11 at Blue Lotus Gallery as part of the HKIPF Satellite Exhibition 2021. The gallery will hold a Zoom talk with Girard on November 27.

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