West Kowloon, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has teamed up with FriendsWithYou in a fun and imaginative partnership to promote the “Hong Kong Neighbourhoods – West Kowloon” programme. Once a highly popular destination for international tourists, Hong Kong has seen some rough times since 2019, first with the civil protests that shut down the airports, and the past year and half of the pandemic. The new initiative involves eye-popping artistic creations of international pop art duo Samuel Borkson from Florida, USA and Arturo Sandoval III from Cuba.
The characters by FriendsWithYou have already made their mark in a host of Hong Kong’s best-known landmarks and attractions. They have:
- Visited the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), one of the world’s largest and most ambitious cultural projects;
- Admired the spectacular skylines at the Sky Corridor of the High Speed Rail Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, and called in on the Avenue of Stars;
- Ridden on Hong Kong’s trams, which have a place in the Guinness World Records as the largest double-decker tram fleet in service (Hong Kong, 2021);
- Shopped for seasonal fruit in the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, one of Hong Kong’s biggest markets of its kind;
- Sailed on the Star Ferry – named as one of the world’s “50 Places of a Lifetime” – for sensational views across Victoria Harbour.
Through a series of online flash mob videos, AR interactive experiences, and gigantic art installations, the happy characters are taking international audiences on a virtual journey across Hong Kong and its world-beating attractions, highlighting the incredible diversity of artistic elements in West Kowloon and encouraging people to explore Hong Kong from an artistic and cultural perspective.
Samuel and Arturo said: “We are thrilled to put our latest art collection, Happy World, on show in Hong Kong, which is the first event of such a remarkable scale for our works in Asia. We hope our collection can spread a message of harmony and joy – the ingredients of life needed in every corner of the world right now. This collection features a family of brightly-coloured characters, including the lead character Little Cloud who will be transformed into a huge inflatable sculpture and greet the public in Art Park in the West Kowloon Cultural District, and other characters including Rainbow Worm, Jelly, Hug Bug, and Peanut Butter. The group will hop around Hong Kong while sharing their friendship and love and connecting with people from every walk of life. We sincerely hope to bring positive and hopeful vibes to everyone as they spread the vision of Happy World.”
After their tour of Hong Kong, 12 giant inflatable installations of the characters will take up temporary residence from 23 September to 14 October, 2021 in the Art Park of the WKCD, where Hong Kong people can create their own photo memories with them. The most eye-catching of the characters, Little Cloud, will be more than three storeys high and longer than a bus, while Rainbow will be larger than a minibus. New family members Jelly and Rainbow Worm will also make their global debut in the Art Park. At the same time, the Hong Kong Space Museum will display the iconic smiley face of the FriendsWithYou characters on its exterior wall, radiating energy and optimism to passers-by.
When to see the FriendsWithYou installations in Art Park:
23 September 2021 : 4 pm – 9:30 pm (last admission at 9 pm)
24 September 2021 – 14 October 2021 : 11 am – 9:30 pm (last admission at 9 pm)
Meet the FriendsWithYou family with an AR experience on your mobile phone
Apart from the public appearances, the FriendsWithYou characters will appear virtually from 23 September at six landmark locations: The WKCD Arts Park, the Xiqu Centre, the Yau Ma Tei Tin Hau Temple, the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, Temple Street Night Market, and the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. Visitors can scan QR codes displayed at these locations with their phones, and the FriendsWithYou characters will magically appear to take them on an in-depth tour of West Kowloon and introduce its arts and cultural highlights. The characters will even pose for selfies with visitors.
FriendsWithYou is an art collaboration created in 2002 by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III with the aim of bringing more joy, kindness, and love to the world. The project is a vehicle for the exploration of emotional healing through culture creation and art. Each work is created with the intention of transcendence, nurturing care for its viewers or participants. The Happy World collection aims to promote love, harmony, and peace. FriendsWithYou’s creations have been exhibited at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Basel in Miami Beach; Dallas Contemporary; Galerie Perrotin, Miami; Nanzuka 2G Gallery, Japan; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; The High Line, New York; The Indianapolis Museum of Art; Marine Projects, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles; Oakland Museum of California, most recently at NSU Art Museum in Ft. Lauderdale, and at other museums and galleries worldwide. FriendsWithYou artworks are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Goldman Family Collection, Montblanc Collection, Soho Beach House, and NSU Art Museum, amongst others.