For Heaven’s Sake: Hong Kong’s paper offerings for the afterlife

For Heaven’s Sake is a photographic research project documenting the unique paper offerings for the afterlife found in street market stalls and old neighbourhood shops across Hong Kong. These care packages, burned for loved ones and ancestors in the afterlife, replicate everything from simple creature comforts and the basic necessities of life, to extravagant luxuries and curious fancies. These objects are joyful, ingenious and thoughtful works of design. They embody Hong Kong people’s conceptions of the afterlife and play an important role in the strengthening of family ties and in the collective expression of culture. Individually, each offering is a touching manifestation of love and devotion that transcends worlds. Together, they form a microcosm of Hong Kong’s material culture, reflecting the city’s aspirations, obsessions and desires.

For Heaven’s Sake is a photographic research project documenting the unique paper offerings for the afterlife found in street market stalls and old neighbourhood shops across Hong Kong. These care packages, burned for loved ones and ancestors in the afterlife, replicate everything from simple creature comforts and the basic necessities of life, to extravagant luxuries and curious fancies. These objects are joyful, ingenious and thoughtful works of design. They embody Hong Kong people’s conceptions of the afterlife and play an important role in the strengthening of family ties and in the collective expression of culture. Individually, each offering is a touching manifestation of love and devotion that transcends worlds. Together, they form a microcosm of Hong Kong’s material culture, reflecting the city’s aspirations, obsessions and desires.

About Chris Gaul

Chris Gaul has worked as a visual designer, design researcher and educator for over fifteen years. He studied Visual Communication Design and International Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has also studied Chinese language at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming and at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. In addition to exhibiting his work in group and solo exhibitions he also curates exhibitions, writes and lectures on art and design, and teaches in the UTS School of Design in Sydney and Hong Kong. Over the past five years he has created and taught the Hong Kong Global Design Studio with Dr Evelyn Kwok. The two-week intensive programme immerses international undergraduate design students in Hong Kong’s design and material culture. Aside from researching Hong Kong’s paper offering culture, he is also completing a short documentary film《香港渠王》Hoeng Gong Keoi Wong, about Hong Kong’s elusive ‘Plumber King,’ featuring interviews and footage from across Hong Kong.

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Design Trust Seed Grant

2019
Grantee: Chris Gaul