Construction, Asia

Building of Chek lap Kok Airport, HK, 1994-5 bas-relief painted in oils 183 x 123cms.

Above is a commissioned relief that records life on site during the building of Hong Kong’s Airport platform. I had a studio in one of the workers cabins & spent over a year based on site. The sand coloured map is the completed shape of the platform, showing activities that took place in those areas. Specialist Dutch Dredging ships sucked sand & mud from the seabed to build the platform (top centre). Local ferries transported people to work (right). Divers helped build the sea walls & place concrete blocks at the waters edge. Derrick lighters & dumper trucks shifted rocks (lower left). Specialist construction teams became part of a multicultural work force that thrived in Hong Kong during that period.

Bas-relief close up details. Dumper trucks and entrance to the work site.
Bas-relief close up details. Dumper trucks and entrance to the work site.

(Above) are close up details from the large relief. Above (left) shows how huge rocks were covered with blankets before being detonated as part of the land fill. Smaller rocks were carted off by dumper trucks, tipped down large metal slides onto the ‘Derreck lighter’ ships where the rocks were again moved with giant claw like grabbers. Above (right) shows the main entrance to the site, workers leaving to catch the ferries home, one is already wearing his life jacket. Two Chinese workers are wearing hard hats poking through traditional wide rimmed wicker hats to shield them from the blazing sun, one beefy worker in white vest has a wet towel on his head to help keep him cool.

Grader Deep water port. Bas-Relief 2009/10 resin painted in oils 5ft x 4ft
Grader Deep water port. Bas-Relief 2009/10 resin painted in oils 5ft x 4ft

The above relief was commissioned by a Chinese engineering company involved in the building of Chek Lap Kok Airport. They wanted a similar relief to display alongside the CLK relief which already was displayed in heir head office in Beijing. The subject was to commemorate the building of a deep water port in Gwadar. Unlike many of the previous construction projects where I’ve had a studio based on site, this project was already complete, so together with directors who’d been based in Pakistan we spent hours going through thousands of images that summed up the feel of life on site. Then I laid out a giant jigsaw of images which were worked up into rough sketches to create the final composition for the relief.

Caricature portraits of directors in a meeting, detail.

Right is a close up section of the central scene in the Gwadar relief showing a meeting along a large table that forms the central part of the relief. These are three Chinese guys in a meeting, worked from the many reference photos I was given. My early days of modelling glasses I used to make them solid & paint the eyes on afterwards, now I carve out the eyes inside which works far better.

Caricature portraits of directors in a meeting, detail.
Detail, local colour.
Detail, local colour.

Above left is a detail of the waters edge with a local colourfully decorated Pakistani truck unloading rocks, the sandbagged area is lined & ready for the sand to be pumped into from the dredgers. A man can be seen praying near the waters edge. It was an intensely colourful subject, local brightly painted fishing boats & trucks. Above right shows one of the security guards with a man painting a sign near the main entrance to the site.