As the city continues to change at breakneck speed, vestiges of “old Hong Kong” are becoming fewer and further between. Luckily, local artist Lai Chi-ming is on hand to preserve the pawn shops and tenement houses of yore (in 1:12 scale):
In the video, Lai shows off his incredibly intricate models, including one of the Woo Cheong Pawn Shop on Johnston Road (now bar and restaurant The Pawn), which dates back to the 19th century, retro old barbershops, classic bing sutt cafés, and more. Each model takes roughly three months to complete.
The artist details his process, including his search for materials in Sham Shui Po, painstaking calculations, and manual “ageing” of the miniature items to make them look suitably rusted or discolored. Lai explains that he likes to include moving elements in his models, like a miniature TV to show the iconic (and period-appropriate) Chow Yun-fat drama, “The Bund”.
On top of small standalone shops and houses, Lai has also built an ambitious recreation of the old village on Mount Davis, Pok Fu Lam. “When older people tell me, ‘I used to live here! I can’t believe I can see it again,’ I feel really happy that I can help Hongkongers preserve their memories.”
To see more of Lai’s work, check out his Facebook page.