Zoe Coughlan, local artist is inspired by Sai Kung

ZoeI’ve lived in Hong Kong since 2002 and moved to Sha Kok Mei in 2004. I love Sai Kung and really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Hong Kong. My favourite thing is the long-ish walk to the bus stop: you see the swallows, the frogs, the crawfish in the stream, the cows, the lychee and mango trees.


There are so many fantastic hikes – we can walk out our front door, out the back of the village and up Ma On Shan. Tai Long Wan is still a favourite too.  

Development is most probably unstoppable, but why can’t we plan it better? The north part of Sha Kok Mei is a great example of terrible planning: the “road” is awful, and keeps being blocked, the drainage is terrible, there are piles of building materials and lots of abandoned cars. It’s not pretty.  

My work for the past five years has been completely influenced by this area. I did a whole series of works about the abandoned villages in the area. Such beautiful and mysterious places. My current work for my upcoming exhibition is all about Sha Kok Mei – the cows, the stream, houses and alleyways. The New Territories are fascinating in the way that the rural and the urban come into contact. You’ve got foreigners and locals, old and new, beauty and ugliness. It’s those contrasts and frictions that interest me.  

I started going to pottery classes as a hobby about ten years ago. I love ceramics because clay is so receptive to touch and so versatile. There’s always more to learn and a very rich history of traditional ceramics to draw on too.  

I used to live in Andalusia, in southern Spain – they have the most amazing Moorish (Berber-Islamic) architecture there, with stunning tiles in intricate designs. I both love and hate the tiled houses in Sai Kung. They’re sort of ugly, but if you look carefully you can find beauty. The best advice I’ve received about art making is ‘Don’t be afraid to make ugly things.’  

I rent a space in a pottery studio, i-Kiln, in the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC) in Shek Kip Mei. The JCCAC is a great space, an old factory building that’s been converted into studios and offices. It’s a great place to meet other artists and hear what’s going on in the Hong Kong art scene.  

I’ve got an exhibition at the JCCAC in Shek Kip Mei, at the end of August. It’s a portrait of a place. I’ve been taking photos around Sha Kok Mei, altering them on Photoshop and printing them onto the ceramic surfaces. As you walk around the bowls, your perspective is constantly changing, re-creating the real experience. I’ve also made a whole load of tiles (more than 300) with pictures of the cows, extracts from letters to the paper, maps of the area, etc. trying to show some of the complexities of the issue.