Hong Kong Island is dominated by steep hilly terrain which makes it the home of some rather unusual methods of transport up and down the slopes. At 800 metres long the mid-level escalator is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. In the morning until 10 AM the escalators run downhill to rush commuters living in the trendy mid-levels down into the city. From 10:30 AM they switch direction and run uphill for the rest of the day, providing much needed assistance to tired legs wanting to get back uphill. It is a great experience to be stood slowly drifting upwards past the multitude of business windows set up around the escalator, to peer into restaurants, suit-makers, nail bars and foot massage parlours as you glide home.
The daily traffic on these escalators exceeds 55,000 people.
They are always busy and tightly managed, people need to keep moving and I feel fortunate to have succeeded in producing a painting on there. I picked a spot tucked behind an information board on a rare break in the escalators, where a kink in the route allows us to see the escalator and stairways climbing up from the city below. The covered escalator is a wonderful juxtaposition of internal and external, being open-sided. As a result, we get a marvellous elevated vantage point of the streets below combined with the internal crowd movement in a single image.
The sun through the tinted roof casts a warm glow over the walkway and figures striding towards us. This stripe of warmth in the painting helps form a ‘Tricolour’ composition working nicely alongside a blue stripe of external light in the centre, finishing with the green stripe formed by the netting covering the bamboo scaffolded building on the far right. These different colour zones were achieved with tinting base painting with linseed oil glazes.
A book featuring this work can be purchased at our Picture Library