Queen’s Road West: Hong Kong’s Vanishing Neighborhood Through the Eyes of William Furniss
Why We Recommend it
In this Royal Geographical Society talk, the Hong Kong based architectural photographer and urbanist looks at Queen’s Road West’s traditional businesses and culture before the arrival of the MTR and property developers changed the face of the area.
Queen’s Road West begins at its junction with Possession Street on the edge of Sheung Wan and ends at Kennedy Town Praya. Over the course of a year, Furniss and various assistants photographed and interviewed numerous business owners along the road. Many of those interviewed were older people with great stories to tell, for instance the octogenarian best friends who, orphaned in Guangdong, arrived in Hong Kong as refugees and run a haberdashery store. Also many businesses are extremely old, with one bamboo basket business in operation for more than a century.
The talk focuses on the history, images, and stories of this iconic Hong Kong street, emphasising its eclectic nature and value as a mixed use neighbourhood. Even since 2016, the road has indeed changed with some surprising closures, which Furniss discusses.
In 1993, Furniss moved from London to Hong Kong, where he become an urban photographer. His interest in cities led him to New York in 1999 with two years spent there developing his approach which today favours pre-visualisation of the image and camera-only manipulations to make a subjective but recognisable record of cities. Numerous exhibitions have been held of William’s work worldwide, which features in collections in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Saddened by the removal of Sammy’s Kitchen’s famous neon cow on Queen’s Road West in 2013, Howard Bilton (Chairman and founder of The Sovereign Group) and Furniss decided to publish a book to document the thoroughfare’s traditional businesses, which became Queen’s Road West, The Vanishing Neighbourhood published in 2016.