Art X Ecology & Anthropology《Self Institute Seed Funding Project 3 : When Trees Cry in the City》
Programme Period
7 – 29 May 2022 

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“When Trees Cry in the City” celebrates and explores the meaning of existence of the street trees from a new artistic perspective. The project takes place in Wan Chai because of its rich heritage manifesting the collective memories of Hong Kong people. The current Hong Kong roadside urban forest is dominated by about 20 common tree species. No matter native or exotic species, they have been living together with us for a long time to witness what is happening in the city. People come and go while the trees stay. With anthropological and ecological approaches, the project uses street trees and their fallen leaves as a medium to connect the minds and emotions of people and trees, so as to take some of the burdens off us as individuals living in Hong Kong. 

The project is a Self Institute Seed Project which comprises three components: 1) Wan Chai Tree Tour Map; 2) Leaf Craft Stories Exhibition; and 3) experiential activities including tours, workshops and fireside chats.

The Tree Tour Map introduces trees of historical significance or related to the neighbourhood, bringing Hong Kong people to explore Wan Chai. Residents and artists are invited to share photos, sketches or any creations of the tree’s locations, developing daily life connections with street trees, and promoting coexistence between humans and trees.

「Pre-exhibition Event (1) Capture a Tree: Ecological Photography Workshop」

As one of the public engagement events of “When Trees Cry in the City”, the workshop will lead participants through observing the street trees and the surrounding ecology. Explore the urban forest and coexistence between humans and trees with eyes and lens.

*All works by participants can be shared to the “Wai Chai Tree Tour Map” online platform.

Biography: Pan Lau is a senior ecology educator with over 10 years experience in local conservation efforts. He is also an expert of birds, reptiles and amphibians in Hong Kong. His photography works are commonly used for education purposes.

Date and Time: 7 May 2022 (Sat) 0930 – 1100
Venue: Wan Chai

Pre-exhibition Event (2) Draw a Tree: Urban Sketching Workshop

As one of the public engagement events of “When Trees Cry in the City”, the workshop will teach participants urban sketching techniques with watercolour drawing tools provided. Appreciate the beauty of street trees and turn these creatures into your own art creation.

*All works by participants can be shared to the “Wai Chai Tree Tour Map” online platform.

Biography: Wai Wai is a local illustrator and silhouette artist who published “A Love Letter to Yau Ma Tei”, her mural painting done at 618 Shanghai Street was shortlisted in the 2020 World Illustration Awards.

Date and Time: 14 May 2022 (Sat) 15:30 – 16:30
Venue: Wan Chai

「Exhibition: When Trees Cry in the City」

The Leaf Craft Stories Exhibition showcases the fallen leaf craft artworks and photos with historical stories behind. The guided tours introduce the basic knowledge of plant identification and how to observe a leaf. By attending the workshops and fireside chats, participants will further understand the project intention and contribute to the discourse on the nature-culture divide.

Date and Time: 20-29 May 2022 10:00 – 18:00
Venue: Diana Cheung Experimental Gallery, 3/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre

Exhibition Tour with Curator (weekday/weekend)

The curator will lead participants through the exhibition “When Trees Cry in the City”, exploring the historical stories of Wan Chai behind the fallen leaf craft artworks and photos related to the tree tour map. Through interactive exercises, participants will learn how to identify street trees by looking at a leaf and their living conditions.

Date and Time:
Weekday: 20 (Fri), 23 (Mon), 25 (Wed), 27 (Fri) May 2022 13:15 – 14:00
Weekend: 21 (Sat), 22 (Sun), 28 (Sat), 29 (Sun) May 2022 14:15-15:00

Venue: Diana Cheung Experimental Gallery, 3/F, Hong Kong Arts Centre

「Experiential Workshop: Wan Chai Street Tree Walk」

The walk will begin at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, participants will be observing and learning different species of street trees in Wan Chai, as well as discovering the importance of trees in urban city life.

Biography: Dr. Law Man Suet Michelle, Ph.D of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Lecturer of the School of Life Sciences at CUHK specialising in soil ecology and ecosystem functioning of earthworm communities. ISA Certified Arborist and holder of Lantra Awards certificate (UK). She has participated in many local vegetation surveys and forest community studies, as well as the biodiversity education projects. 

Date and Time: 21 May 2022 (Sat) 15:30 – 16:30
Venue: Wan Chai

「Experiential Workshop: Leaf Art Family Workshop」

The family workshop of “When Trees Cry in the City” exhibition will lead children and their parents to observe the structure of leaves and learn about the common species of street trees in Hong Kong. Children will make their own leaf crafts and picture book will be prepared for parents to read with them to further their imagination and emotional expression.

Date and Time: 22 May 2022 (Sun) 12:00 – 13:30
Venue: Online

「Fireside Chat (1) The History of Wan Chai Trees – Hong Kong Greening Initiatives」

The first fireside chat will talk about the urban forest of Wan Chai such as Victoria Park, Hong Kong Cemetery and Dominion Garden. Discover the diverse species and historical values of the street trees and discuss the greening initiatives of Hong Kong. 

Biography: Jan Lai, Co-founder and President of Green Sense. Established in 2004, Green Sense aims to point out the non-environmentally friendly practice in society through research and monitoring, and enhance the environmental consciousness by education and publicity.

Date and Time: 28 May 2022 (Sat) 15:15 – 16:15
Venue: Eric Hotung Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre

Fireside Chat (2) Hong Kong Cultural Landscapes from Oral History

Oral history focuses on the experiences, sentiments and subjective memories of people which are usually developed from their everyday life at a particular place. Sharing people’s stories about the place makes it possible for us to communicate, understand and identify with each other as a community. Therefore, a “place” does not only conceive a geographical meaning, but its social and cultural representation. In the second fireside chat the speaker will share her experiences in these aspects and discuss the methods of collecting people’s memories for art creations and community studies.

Biography: Dr. Wong Wai-ling, Ph.D in Sociology of The University of Hong Kong (HKU). Her research interests include oral history studies of local communities. She has committed to several community oral history projects, such as Yau Ma Tei, To Kwa Wan, Nga Tsin Wai Village, the water communities in Aberdeen and South Lamma. Her related works include: “Memoryscape: Oral Histories of Fishermen in Aberdeen” (2015), and the online exhibitions on Hong Kong Memory website.

Date and Time: 28 May 2022 (Sat) 16:30 – 17:30
Venue: Eric Hotung Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre

「Fireside Chat (3) The Art of Philosophy: Pick Up Fallen Leaves and Yourself」

The curator and her project mentor Yeung Chun Yin (Uncle Salt) will talk about the project ideas and how to deal with changes in life and society by learning from a fallen leaf.


Yeung Chun-yin (Uncle Salt), graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences of The University of Hong Kong and the Department of Philosophy at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He went on to study a Ph.D Programme in Humboldt University of Berlin and King’s College London to further his study. In 2016, Uncle Salt and his comrades established Philosophy study group “Corrupt the Youth”.

Date and Time: 29 May 2022 (Sun) 15:30 – 17:30
Venue: Eric Hotung Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre


Teresa Chan is currently an independent researcher, writer and illustrator. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Biodiversity from The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and her Master’s degree in Anthropology from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. As a nature lover, she began committing herself to urban-rural development and research of communities in Wan Chai, Lamma Island and Lai Chi Wo, after a long stay farming with indigenous people in Taiwan. She is also engaged in early childhood education with Montessori philosophy and has published several picture books including “Grandpa, What’s Your Dream?” (2019), “The Colours of Nature” (2020) and “Angry Croissant” (2021). She responds to social issues through artistic creation and comic drawing. Her works were featured in “A Tribute to Yasi” Exhibition by HKU (2018) and The Washington Post (2021). She is exploring fallen leaves as a medium to portrait the city and its ever-changing character.

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