FROM THE COLLECTION // An Artistic Homage to Our Chinese and Indigenous Histories

Trajectory of Histories, 2021

FROM THE COLLECTION aims to introduce readers to the inventories of local art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions, not via official exhibition notes but by way of the people that help manage and maintain the collections themselves.

“I live on the North Shore and work in Chinatown, and also call the Chinese Garden my home for the last two years as an Artist-in-residence, so it’s a way for me to contemplate on the land and its shared histories, as well as both cultures’ (Chinese and Indigenous) relation in terms of living and labour.”

In this special edition of From the Collection, we hear from Lam Wong, Artist/Co-Curator (Rivers Have Mouths exhibit) and Artist-in-residence (Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 2019-2021) about the historical inspirations behind his original multimedia art installation…

“I created this artwork (Trajectory of Histories, 2021) – part painting, park sculpture or small installation – to honour the early labours or workers and pay respect to them. The placement of an early Chinese worker (either railway or mill worker) and Sophie Frank (a Squamish basket weaver) is to mimic the traditional way of family ancestral shrine usually found in a Chinese home. These shrines are usually placed in the centre of a living room and facing the front door. Tea cups are usually placed in front of the portraits for making offerings as respect and blessing. I decided to have four tea cups to symbolize the four directions. The two cups that are containing ‘Rice’ and ‘Charcoal’ are to honour the Chinese worker for his labour to feed the mouth. The two cups that are containing ‘Hemlock Tips’ and ‘Northshore River Water’ are to honour Sophie Frank for her skillful crafty labour to make a living.

“The Chinese worker portrait was based on an early photo (1886) that was taken on Carrall Street where the Chinese Garden is situated. Sophie Frank’s portrait was based on an early photo (1903) that was believed to be taken on the lower Lonsdale on the North Shore. Frank was a close friend of Emily Carr who visited her frequently and even did a portrait painting of her. I live on the North Shore and work in Chinatown, and also call the Chinese Garden my home for the last two years as an Artist-in-residence, so it’s a way for me to contemplate on the land and its shared histories, as well as both cultures’ (Chinese and Indigenous) relation in terms of living and labour.”


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