About the artist
Vincent Yu, born and raised in Hong Kong, has worked as an Associated Press photographer covering major news events across the Asia-Pacific region since the mid-1980s. As a close observer of Hong Kong’s social and political development, Yu has acquired a unique sensitivity towards the territory's ever-changing cityscape and environment which are often reflected through his imaginaries.
Yu is an award-winning photographer whose works cover both the journalistic and documentary genre. He is the first Hong Kong photographer to have been recognised by World Press Photo and his works are being collected by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Yu is regarded as an influential figure in photography in Hong Kong. He was the Chairman of the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, and was a founding member of the Hong Kong International Photo Festival. From 2010- 2012, he operated The Upper Station Photo Gallery in Hong Kong, which showcased the works of some of Hong Kong’s most acclaimed photographers.
The Vanishing Coastline
Hong Kong – a metropolis of seven million people. Its coastline totals 870 kilometres , formed by 218 islands. Through the years, 16 islands have been lost to reclamation works and the erection of reservoirs. Shorelines of the yesteryears are only found in old photographs. In Wanchai alone, the coastline has undergone changes six times. Reclamation has also been relentless in both Central and West Kowloon.
He embarked on this project in 2003. Whenever free, he would spend time recording the coastlines in different parts of Hong Kong. The journey – likenening the one in “Alice in Wonderland” -- brought him to places from abandoned rocky shores to old ferry piers that have fallen into ruins. In some places, the shoreline simply serves as the backdrop to sleek high-risers. Each sight has left a unique impression on him. At times, it felt surreal as if he had disappeared off to outerspace. Other scenes reminded him of his favourite classical music – elaborate and decadent. Vincent has always been fond of capturing things whose existence are under threat. In this case, he hopes that the work would serve as scattered evidence of what the city once was. It is his wish that our decedents in years to come would still have means to find out about the past.
In 1985, I began working as a photojournalist. I witnessed the influx of Vietnamese refugees; Queen Elizabeth's last visit to Hong Kong in 1986, the same year that Hong Kong governor Sir Edward Youde died of a heart attack while working in Beijing; the June 4 Tiananmen incident in 1989; the Sino-British talks on the handover; the brain drain that followed and the appointment of Chris Patten as the last governor of Hong Kong in 1992.
In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China. Deng Xiaoping’s promise was put to test. He had vowed that there would be 50 years of no change for Hong Kong under the "one country, two systems" principle where our horse racing and parties would continue.
In 1998, I published a book of images of life before the handover of Hong Kong. The book was titled "HKG", the namesake of Hong Kong's airport code. Twenty years later, Hong Kong, which was promised 50 years of no change, has transformed beyond recognition. With 30 more years to go until 2047, it is my wish to republish "HKG". I thank my publisher and every friend who has helped for this new edition of "HKG". This new edition retains some of the images from the earlier edition and adds images shot after the handover. They document the changes that have taken place in Hong Kong. Before our collective memories vanish, I hope this book will help everyone remember and embrace a unique period of time that will never pass again.