Updated: Sep 29, 2020
A new era has arrived for Hong Kong neon industry, neon conservation and the Tsui Wah neon signs
(Please scroll down for the Chinese version)
Neon was not a local invention but some known evidence shows it has taken root in the city for almost a century. Hong Kong is magical in such a way that we can make almost anything foreign our own. Neon is no exception. Before the computer age, every procedure of neon sign making was done by hand, including the design, neon tube bending, metal box making, installation etc. This qualifies neon-sign making as a craft and each neon sign is a piece of art in its own right. The compact nature of the city also gave birth to its signature sea of neon while the intertwining of neon signs created an iconic image of Hong Kong.
We have enjoyed neon light for decades but it is not uncommon for many of us to be oblivious to the people and stories behind it. As a non-profit organization, TNX strives to bring the faces of the unsung heroes to the forefront for them to be seen and recognised, as one of our major objectives.
Cha Chaan Teng 茶餐廳 is another imperative component to the local culture while Tsui Wah Group 翠華 (TW) has been one of the industry leaders and a household name among both locals and tourists. We TNX set out to save as many neon signs left across the city as possible and those three beautiful signs on Parkes Street awaiting a good home undoubtedly were a monumental place to start.
The ground-breaking conservation project officially commenced back in May 2020 when we proactively approached TW. We earned their trust and the group was happy to put the signs they treasure dearly in our hands. Since then, every step of the way, TW has been nothing but supportive of this initiative that we spearheaded. Their Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lee Kun Lun, Kenji even participated in our meeting as well as the actual sign removal.
As our photos show, we opted for an unprecedented and ceremonious way to have the main sign (8.5m x 4.5m) removed on 15 Aug 2020. We did not only keep it intact but also lit during the removal. With our deliberately thought-provoking effort, we hope more people could reflect on why we would treat a neon sign with such respect even in an economic downturn. As a matter of fact, a neon sign like that is a rare find worldwide and more of us should be waking up to its cultural significance.
Conducted by Mr. Lee Kun Lun Kenji, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Tsui Wah Group, the unconventional light-off ceremony symbolised the pivotal metamorphosis that the neon signs, the Hong Kong neon industry and conservation as well as TW are all going through. With more funding in place, TNX will hire local neon masters for restoration work in the near future and the signs will shine once again even brighter and better!
Professionals and sponsors in different fields joined hands to convert this costly and technically challenging vision into a reality. For that, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to 翠華餐廳 Tsui Wah Restaurant, AP Rentals, CKM Asia Limited, China One Construction Ltd., The Public Light Bus Merchants' United Association, Power Distribution Systems Ltd, Tak Shing Neonlight Co., Fallout Media, JOHN LEUNG Photography and Mamaday 嘛嘛地.
More information to follow. We look forward to hearing from you, especially if you would like us to conserve your neon sign.