Translating the poetic sentiments of imperial China is Xu’s prime concern. Embedded in his works are multiple references to literature, painting, calligraphy and religious art in classical China. By synthesising these ideas with those drawn from his vocabulary of Western shapes, Xu gives energy to traditional Chinese dress.
My books all begin with photos, photos from my collection that show Hong Kong in the late 19th and early 20th century. I choose each photo for the stories it has to tell—some obvious, others that need a closer look to uncover.
The diva is a nearly universal phenomenon. When Tosca sings in Giacomo Puccini’s opera of devoting her life to art and love, she speaks not just for herself but for a tradition of divas connecting Rome’s Teatro Argentina to Shiraz’s mystical soirées, to the pleasure pavilions of Delhi, to the entertainment quarter of Yangzhou.
The vast majority of silverware in Thailand does not possess any reign or maker’s mark or other indicator as to date or place of manufacture. Most of the marks found are Chinese “chop marks”, stamped onto the underside of the silver object, perhaps with the aim of validating authenticity. Sometimes, the Chinese characters were transliterated into Thai from the Chaozhou dialect although this never became common practice.
This photo shows the view looking south along Pedder Street, across its junction with Des Voeux Road and Chater Road. It was sold as a postcard, and its title comes from this pencil note on the back.
The first time I set foot in the war zone, a Ukrainian soldier chastely kissed my cheek before confiding he was excited to tell his mother that he had kissed a Frenchwoman. A few minutes later, just beside me, his fellow soldiers were perched on a tank, firing shots in the air to disperse residents who were opposed to their presence. The ringing from the shots caused me to lose hearing in one ear for a full 24 hours.
Stories with a grand narrative can join the past and the future. They can motivate a community to believe and act. A good story can even persuade others that someone or something is special and, even though they may not have a direct stake in the outcome, they would nevertheless wish the protagonists well.