Hong Kong has a fantastic burgeoning local art scene. Sai Ying Pun resident Flo Traissac will be exhibiting this week at the Visual Arts Centre on Kennedy Road. She tells Carolynne Dear why she’s inspired by her local neighbourhood, an area that was the site of the first landing by the British military in the 1840s (it literally translates as ‘western camps’) and is now one of the territory’s hippest suburbs
I arrived in Hong Kong just over five years ago. I originally came from Australia for personal reasons, but I ended up staying longer than intended.
I live in Sai Ying Pun with my children Chloe and Noah and my Australian cat, Oscar. I love the area’s vibe, the mix of traditional and new and its proximity to great transport and things to do. There are so many little cafes and restaurants that I enjoy, the parks and public swimming pool – it’s so convenient. I love the juxtaposition of Hong Kong’s amenities, local markets backed up against big shopping malls. It’s changed a lot since I’ve been here and in a very short space of time.
I graduated in art, graphic design and advertising in Paris and worked as a graphic designer before moving into fashion. I studied at both the Ateliers Met de Peninghen and later the Ecole de Communication Visuelle. I’ve done a lot of different jobs but my passion has always been drawing. I’ve drawn since I was a kid and it was the thing I really loved doing. But I didn’t study in this area as I didn’t think it would realistically become a paying job for me. The hardest thing is to believe in yourself, but once I did it all worked out and now I draw and paint for a living.
It’s always stimulating arriving in a new place. After a while, you start to see things through different eyes. When I first arrived from Australia, the streets in Hong Kong spoke to me. There were so many stories to tell, it was like theatre for me, every corner held a little bit of magic.
Some of my favourite artists include Klimt, Egon Schiele, John Singer Sargent, Fernand Leger, Bonnard, as well as the drawings by Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. At the moment I’m working on four separate client orders and also preparing for my next Hong Kong exhibition, which is being held this month at the Visual Art Centre. I have recently been contacted by a New York gallery which is incredibly exciting. Paris is also on the cards, so I have a busy year ahead in 2018. I will also be working on some new art wall projects around Hong Kong.
When I’m not painting, I enjoy going to the beach and just spending time with my children and friends. Deepwater Bay is the easiest for us to reach, but we also enjoy a day out at Clearwater Bay. One of the best things about Hong Kong is being in the city but also having the beach and nature on your doorstep – everything’s a reasonable distance.
Being Italian born and bred, coffee is a pretty important part of my life. If I’m after a caffeine hit, I love the coffee shops on Peel, Hazel and Hershey Streets. Particular favourites include Barista Jam in Sheung Wan, Winston’s near Sai Ying Pun MTR on Queens Road and The Cupping Room, also in Sheung Wan. My kids love eating at Pizzeria Italia on the High Street in Sai Ying Pun, it’s a small place but their pizza is one of the best in Hong Kong. But I also enjoy dining in the Tai Hang area – there are some charming restaurants and bars. Favourites include Kanamono and The Minimal. The Metropolitan in Sheung Wan does some great French food and I have also painted an art wall for them.
This summer I went back to my parents summer house in Antibes, France. I’ve spent nearly all my summer holidays here since I was a child. It’s nice to go back to your roots and appreciate both what you had and what you have now. I miss the clear blue skies and the beautiful architecture. When I’m in France I also try and spend some time in Paris visiting friends from when I studied there and immersing my kids in French culture. It’s one of my favourite cities.