Author: Edward Stokes
Translator: Jennifer Chan
Publisher: Hong Kong Conservation Photography Foundation with Hong Kong University Press, 2005
Format: Bilingual hardback, 255mm x 280mm, 300pp.
In September 1946 Hong Kong was recovering from war, little changed from some decades earlier. To that China coast port came the photographer Hedda Morrison, best known for her images of Beijing in the 1930s.
Morrison, as a photographer, had found her life’s vocation in China. In September 1946, energized by her recent marriage, Hedda Morrison embraced the life of Hong Kong. For six months, cameras in hand, with her husband Alastair she roamed its streets, coasts, and countryside. This book records the people and places she encountered.
Within a few years much of what Hedda Morrison photographed would be lost. Yet in 1946 – 47 Hong Kong’s urban and rural life still retained its old feel, its traditions and cultural ways. Colonial precincts, dense Chinese streets, ever bustling markets, hawkers, nomadic fisherfolk and farmers. Edward Stokes’ essays portraying Hong Kong then mirror Morrison’s memorable images.
The book presents Morrison’s compelling documentary photos of Hong Kong, its people and life, together with narratives by Edward Stokes. Together they vividly portray the Colony’s immediate postwar years.
The human sympathy and striking compositions of Hedda Morrison’s photographs reflect the eye of a masterful photographer. Yet fewer than thirty of this book’s images had ever been seen before. It was those photos, in 1995 sighted by Edward Stokes in a 1946 government report, that prompted him to search for the original negatives – years later discovered at Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University. This book is the result: a unique record of a long-vanished Hong Kong.
The late Dr Raymond Lum, of Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University – seen here with Edward Stokes at the book launch of Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong. Ray was a tireless ally in the book’s gestation and publication.