Why Hongkongers shouldn’t criticise Anya Hindmarch’s Chubby Hearts project; they may not be high art, but that’s not the point

To those critics, I would suggest offering people the chance to enjoy some lighthearted fun. As for those who view this as a waste of time, why not release your negative emotions and embrace your inner child? Let’s be kind, liberated and grateful for life’s simplest pleasures.

Katie and Patrick Wong celebrate Valentine’s Day in front of a Chubby Hearts balloon at the Belcher Bay promenade, Kennedy Town. Photo: Ambrose Li

Art does not always have to be intricate or extravagant. Some of the finest artworks are designed to captivate, stimulate the mind and creativity, and evoke emotions that enable us to delve into our inner landscapes.

While the balloons may seem ordinary or akin to simple red heart emojis, they undeniably have brought much joy and laughter to those who have encountered them.

Hong Kong needs lessons on tourism. China’s icy north provides them

Some detractors said they are no different from a WhatsApp emoji. But what’s wrong with that? We live in a world comprising billions of internet users who use emojis every day. Emojis are a modern day language now, so get used to it.

Regarding the HK$7.8 million (US$1 million) cost to the organiser for installing these balloons, some critics said the money has gone down the drain since it will not affect tourist numbers.

The desired tourist objective may not be achieved, but the balloons have certainly brought a lot of happy faces around the city. By viewing the cost in relation to Hong Kong’s population of 7.5 million people, it amounts to around HK$1 per person. As such, the expense incurred is a worthwhile allocation of resources to create shared experiences that resonate with the community.

The delightful and whimsical art project, which runs until February 24, evokes a sense of warmth and happiness, making it a perfect spot for photos and creating joyful memories. It serves as a lighthearted reminder to spread love and kindness in our daily lives.

British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch attends the opening ceremony of the Chubby Hearts Hong Kong art installation at Statue Square Gardens, in Central. Photo: Sam Tsang

The takeaway from the Chubby Hearts project is that we need to introduce more public art installations, which are an excellent way to foster community connection and provide a common ground for people to come together.

These installations are conversation starters and create gathering spots for individuals looking to share experiences and build relationships. By creating more opportunities for communal engagement through art, Hong Kong can cultivate a sense of unity and belonging among its residents, offering a platform for shared activities and creative expression that transcends barriers and fosters a sense of togetherness.

To expand our initiatives, we can delve into an extensive selection of creative installations that go beyond the chubby heart balloons to enhance communal engagement.

For instance, we could incorporate interactive light installations in public areas that react to sound, movement or touch, encouraging individuals to engage with one another and their environment actively.

A giant inflatable heart from Chubby Hearts Hong Kong in Wan Chai. Photo: Eugene Lee

Another compelling idea is to introduce community wall art projects where local residents can contribute their artwork to a designated wall. Moreover, we could introduce mobile art pods that rotate between neighbourhoods. These pods may feature small art exhibitions, workshops or performances, offering residents convenient access to cultural experiences and opportunities for social interaction.

By introducing a diverse array of creative installations and programmes, the city can foster a vibrant community fabric that thrives on shared experiences, interactions and cultural enrichment. These efforts could pave the way for the city to blossom into an authentic art hub.

We can broaden our artistic portfolio by commemorating significant cultural symbols like dragons during the Year of the Dragon. This could serve as a wonderful opportunity to enhance the visual landscape of Hong Kong. One potential strategy is to consider developing large-scale dragon sculptures or installations in prominent public spaces throughout the city.

These creations could be crafted through collaborations with local artists or by commissioning established sculptors. By merging traditional aesthetics with modern artistic interpretations, we can produce some awesome artworks.

One of the Chubby Hearts Hong Kong balloons in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Sam Tsang

Moreover, incorporating interactive components such as light displays, soundscapes or kinetic elements into these dragon installations could facilitate audience engagement, providing an immersive and enriching experience.

This innovative approach has the potential to captivate individuals of various ages and backgrounds, nurturing a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance of the Year of the Dragon while crafting lasting memories for both residents and visitors.

Change is an inescapable facet of life, and much like any vibrant metropolis, Hong Kong has experienced significant transformations in recent decades. The city has evolved over the last 20 years, and it is crucial to acknowledge that evolution is a natural progression that mirrors the changing needs, values, and aspirations of its inhabitants and global society.

To those who critique fervently, consider the message behind Chubby Hearts’ creator; regard the balloons as a medium to “spread some joy and share some love”. Let’s extend some affection to Hong Kong and allow space for its resurgence, enabling it to excel in what it does best – adapting to transformations and challenges.

Luisa Tam is a Post editor who also hosts video tutorials on Cantonese language that are now part of Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment programme


Business Asia
the authorBusiness Asia

Leave a Reply