Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
Neighbouring the China Building and the Landmark in Central, the Pedder Building stands due to its western and foreign appearance. To me, it’s more than a place packed with art galleries and exhibitions; it’s where I have been lost and found.
Pressing buttons on the lifts and moving up and down through the building, my friend Karen and I had seen what shouldn’t be seen. Having navigated the pools of artsy inspiration, in the hope of exploring more and more, we arrived at a floor that was shuttered off by ten wooden planks, as if there were something beyond this earthly realm locked up in this ancient building. It was all dark in there and the vacant space left much so to our imagination. We even heard someone breathing in the intimidating silence, like a beast groaning and snoring in deep sleep.
We had nowhere to go but to the upper floor, which was again blocked off, but hitched up with yellow and black barrier tape bearing the word “Do Not Cross” —as if it were a crime scene. This unexpected line-up of surprises chilled us to the bone, leaving us to wonder what was going on on the seventh and eighth storeys. Restricted to the lift, we were left with no choice and headed back to our starting point—the second floor, where the art dimension began and which had ended three minutes earlier.
It’d been so mystical and magical for us—being sent back safe and sound, standing in the long narrow corridor again, and seeing passers-by coming and going in the most ordinary way. It’d been an odyssey to travel between fictitious artworlds, and then from a haunting domain back to our everyday reality. Karen took my hand and woke me up from the vertiginous thrill that absorbed me so much. “What an experience!” said Karen with a heart-warming grin.
“Yeah. It’s just too surreal for me,” I replied.
Hand in hand, we walked out of the Pedder Building and continued on our way.
Mignon Chiu is a student of the Department of English and Department of Education (Class of 2018). [Read all entries by Mignon.]