Hong Kong Flora and Fauna
A mural by the celebrated artist-naturalist James Prosek
James Prosek's Hong Kong Flora and Fauna mural is an exciting new commission from ASHK’s To See the Forest and Trees exhibition. Based on field research and consultation with local ecologists, this panoramic mural depicts Hong Kong’s diverse flora and fauna from the mountains to coastal mangroves. Illustrated like a field guide—a book designed to help identify wildlife—organisms are labelled, yet without an identification key. The absence of a key is intended to make us think about how we name and classify nature, and how nomenclature frames and filters our understanding of and interaction with plants and animals. What wildlife can you identify and which ones intrigue you to learn more?
One of the first animal silhouettes that can be seen from the left side is South China Tiger. These tigers were present in Hong Kong up until the early 20th century. However, over time, with the destruction of their mountainous subtropical evergreen forest habitat and unregulated hunting, the species have not been seen in the wild for 25 years and are considered critically endangered.
In the center of the mural stands our own Giraffe Tree. The Giraffe Tree is banyan tree (ficus microcarpa) believed to be over 70 years old on the site of ASHK, at the bottom of Justice Drive. Its distinctive form with a waterfall of lignified roots forming the body and towering crown forming an elongated resembles a giraffe. In 2008, it suffered a severe lightning stroke and the main trunk was burnt. After considerable efforts, it has survived to become a unique feature of ASHK.
The mural was painted over the course of five days, and was recorded by a time lapse camera. Come see the mural for yourself before the exhibition’s closing on September 8th, 2019!