A visual representation of "Shanghai Street" by Jennifer Wong
FUNG Wan Hei
St. Paul's Convent School
My artwork takes a first-person view of the memories the writer had as a naïve child looking at different aspects of Shanghai Street.
The writer speaks in the voice of her younger self, who had no knowledge of Chinese rituals, and was often in confusion.
The use of sharp colours help to express the festive cultures that she could recall, and it also brings out the value of the customs that she found strange at first.
The coin, the sweet and tissue paper the writer received in a packet are pictured at the bottom, reflecting her experience at a funeral. She reminisced her young self, ignoring the incongruity of the unknown elements, yet mentioning death is considered a taboo, which Chinese people seldom talk about. Not a soul to be seen in a street is common during the ghost festival as it’s said that evil spirits might haunt or possess people’s spirits. The thought bubbles resemble the experience of witnessing her grandmother burning joss paper and paper effigies to the deceased, and seeing foreigners bewildered at elusive shop signs that seem to signify happiness but are in fact referring to death-related items.
All in all, this piece conveys how the writer has experienced several cultural discoveries and gradually come to realisation.
It is the missing block four of a development,
the way we avoid going outdoors
one summer evening of ghost festival.
We suspect foreigners may be confused
by shop signs that read
‘Celestial Pleasures’ or
‘Eternal Living’ nestled between
tuck-shops and stationers
in the middle of Shanghai Street.
I heard that folks went there
for quality timber and craftsmanship.
When I was a kid I used to think
they were toy shops - all those
paper houses, paper dolls,
paper shirts and even mobile phones.
I didn’t know until the day I saw
Grandmother burned them after purchase.
I didn’t know what to do
with the packet I received:
a coin, a sweet, and tissue paper.
How strange it feels,
things we don’t talk about.
“Shanghai Street” was published in Goldfish by Jennifer Wong, p.9. Copyrights © 2013 byChameleon Press.