THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HERITAGE FOUNDATION PORTRAYS THE IMAGES OF ASIA'S PIONEER PHOTOGRAPHERS

The objectives of the Foundation are to locate and identify photographs in archives and private collections; to revive their context and meaning; and to publish them in books, exhibitions and online. Assisted by funding support from our donors, the Foundation operates on a not-for-profit basis. We form a bridge between little-known photos, their places of origin, and all those interested in Asia’s history and heritage.

Over time photographs become fragments of history. Yet, especially given the often profound development of the places they portray, such images are invaluable records. Countless numbers of historical images are held by institutions and by individuals. Until brought to light and published, effectively they are ‘lost’.

The Foundation is a Hong Kong company limited by guarantee. The body was established in 2008 as a Hong Kong Charitable Institution. 

The opening of the August 2017 Singapore Lee Fook Chee exhibition, sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore and held at The Arts House: Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (centre) toasts the exhibition, together with (left to right) Mr Bernard Charnwut Chan, Foundation Patron; Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, Singapore; Mr Chen Xiaodong, Chinese Ambassador to Singapore; and Edward Stokes, Foundation Publisher and exhibition curator.

The 2015 launch of Lee Fook Chee’s Hong Kong. Dr Charles Yeung, founder of the GS Charity Foundation and book sponsor; to the left, Bernard Charnwut Chan, Foundation Patron; Helmuth Hennig, Foundation Chairman; and to the right, Edward Stokes, Foundation Founder and Publisher.

‘The Photographic Heritage Foundation’s initiative ensured the preservation of Lee Fook Chee’s unique photographic collection – which otherwise might very easily have been lost forever. Publication of the Foundation’s superbly reproduced Lee Fook Chee book opens our eyes to 1950s Hong Kong. I am sure the Foundation’s future books, including those on Singapore, will be equally outstanding.’ Bernard Charnwut Chan, Patron, The Photographic Heritage Foundation

‘The Foundation’s books have class and creativity, and an intimacy that resonates. With their independence, authority and superb reproduction, they are the pre-eminent Hong Kong photo histories.’ Dr Peter Cunich, Historian, The University of Hong Kong

To date, The Photographic Heritage Foundation has only scratched the surface of Asia’s record of historical photographs. With greater support, its books, exhibitions, online and outreach offer a unique opportunity to share and perpetuate Asia’s photographic heritage. There is a compelling need to preserve and communicate Asia’s photo heritage. These historical photographs, rich in diversity and revealing in the mirror they hold up to rapidly changing Asian societies, are a precious and often endangered record. Many of these images languish in archives scattered across the world, while others lie undiscovered in homes and private collections. Few have had the exposure that they and their often unknown creators deserve. Yet such images illuminate, better than anything else, how the past has created Asia’s present.

The Foundation was established to respond to this need. It seeks out little-known or unknown photographic collections, and shares them through books, exhibitions and online. It also engages with communities through talks and outreach. The Foundation believes passionately that Asia’s historical photos deserve perpetuating and communicating. At the heart of The Photographic Heritage Foundation is an active book publishing programme. Digital archives and publication play an important role. However, we believe that books, beautifully designed and produced, with narratives informed by rigorous research, have the greatest impact and the most lasting cultural value. The Foundation’s publications, such as Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong (re-published as Hong Kong As It Was) and Lee Fook Chee’s Hong Kong, published with generous funding support from The Hong Kong Jockey Club and Dr Charles Yeung, respectively, have been recognized as landmarks of photographic publishing – and as valuable contributions to local and regional social history. Equally important are the efforts the Foundation makes to rescue and preserve the photographic collections that it uncovers. Secure conservation of fragile negatives and prints in public museums, libraries or archives ensures they are preserved for posterity and also available for further research. Digital, high-resolution scans on public websites make them available to audiences across Asia and worldwide. The Foundation’s efforts, for example, led to Lee Fook Chee’s photos being brought to institutional attention. In Singapore, the Foundation has been the pathfinder for Marjorie Doggett’s invaluable 1950s photographs and documents being donated to the National Archives of Singapore.

Our Photo Heritage Vision

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