Marching the MacLehose by Ethan Lo
"Hong Kong is the most expensive city to live in and there are also a lot of politics about land use and housing, there are no doubt that the trails will be changing in the near future, there are 70% of Hong Kong is still rural area, it would be interesting to see how and what will be changing in the coming years."
Following the longest hiking trail in Hong Kong Ethan Lo captured the human altered landscape. His photographic documentation reveals a city slowly encroaching on the wild ever growing nature pushed to the side of the mountain from Sai Kung to Kowloon. In a community as densely populated as Hong Kong Lo aims to highlight our impact on the environment around us. Our population is ever increasing and our affect on the few uninhabited parts of nature is becoming more evident. Marching the MacLehose stands as an artistic documentation and account of the human impact on surrounding flora in Hong Kong.
Abstract: Hong Kong is a city surrounded by mountain and sea, the only ways for it to expand are either from land reclamation or land development. Seventy percent of the land is still considered as nature; however, in order to meet the demand of housing, there are plans from the government to turn the green area into an area for living in the next few years. The Maclehose Trail is the longest hiking track in Hong Kong. It stretches over the New Territories, starting from Sai Kung through Kowloon, finally leading up to the Western tip before concluding in Tuen Muen. One hundred kilometers of connecting trails invites hikers to discover amazing beaches, to climb the highest mountain in Hong Kong and to revel in mother nature atop Lion’s Rock Peak. My intention for this project is to show just how close the city is to nature. Taking advantage of being able to walk on the trails alone, that have been shaped by man, I saw how humans are altering the natural landscape. Buildings and concrete structures are slowly infringing onto the mountain, bringing the city into the natural landscape. We can no longer be removed from modern life; I believe it is my duty to document the trails as they are now, as there will undoubtedly be historical changes in the years to come.
Tell us about you and your artwork.
I am a Hong Kong based artist, on my last year studying BFA in photography. Most of my work focus on human altered landscape, time and land use. Hoping audience would question and think about how we uses land. Especially in a city like Hong Kong.
How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?
It was a long process planning for this project, I came up with the concept first and the project went to a lot of different direction until i choose to focus on the MacLehose Trail.
What work inspires or has inspired you?
Eugene Atget’s really inspired me, I really want my art work to have the same impact as Atget’s work.
Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
I really enjoy conceptual and abstract art. I really like to “read” and interpret an artwork.
Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your artwork?
Hope that my artwork could make people question how we are using the land and don’t take nature for granted, it will all change because of economic growth.
You've worked on your current project for a while now and you're aiming to be working on it for even longer. This is an ambitious and great body of work. Can you tell us more about the MacLehose trail in Hong Kong and how it's affected by human influence?
Yes, I planned to work on this project for ten years, I just finished the first year of the project and I am currently making it into a book. I will shoot again five years later and ten years later, there will be three book on this project in total. Hong Kong is the most expensive city to live in and there are also a lot of politics about land use and housing, there are no doubt that the trails will be changing in the near future, there are 70% of Hong Kong is still rural area, it would be interesting to see how and what will be changing in the coming years.
Any words to aspiring photographers?
Work hard and determination.
Is there anything you're currently working on besides documenting the MacLehose trail?
I am currently working on a new project, but nothing is set in stone yet. It will be another long term project but not as long as Marching the MacLehose of course. Hopefully I would have something to show the public by the end of November.
Do you have work on show anywhere at the moment?
One of the triptych from Marching the MacLehose will be displaying in Cambridge University group show “Artificial Thing” with Shutter Hub, from 3rd November till 19th January. If anyone is interested in seeing the prints in real life and other amazing work from other artists should definitely go check it out.