Author: Edward Stokes
Publisher: The Photographic Heritage Foundation with Hong Kong University Press, 2009
Format: Hardback, 255mm x 280mm, 228pp.
In September 1946 the photographer Hedda Morrison, best known for her images of Beijing taken in the 1930s, arrived in Hong Kong. In six months she created a unique record of Hong Kong just after the war – “as it was”.
Morrison, German by birth, had become a documentary photographer during over a decade living in China, from 1933 to 1946. Her great skill – and passion – was to record the lives of ordinary “grassroots” people. This she did in Hong Kong to great effect, from September 1946 to March 1947.
As the original bilingual version of this book, Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong, records, within a few years, much of what Hedda Morrison saw would be lost. Yet in 1946 – 47 Hong Kong’s urban and rural life still retained its traditions and cultural ways. Colonial precincts, the dense Chinese streets, ever bustling markets, hawkers, nomadic fisherfolk and farmers. Edward Stokes’ evocative essays portraying Hong Kong in those years complement Morrison’s images.
If Hedda came across a scene or a group of people, she would photograph from various angles. A single photo would never satisfy her.
Hedda Morrison was a masterful photographer. Her photos, sighted in a 1946 government report, prompted Edward Stokes to search for her negatives – discovered years later at Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University. Hedda Morrison’s images now show Hong Kong in 1946 – 47, little had changed from the 1930s to the early 1950s.
Press checking while printing the book at CS Graphics, Singapore – with Victor Cheong, then the Foundation’s designer (left); and Pet Toh,
CS Graphics’ Print Manager (centre).