PMQ Corner #39

In the Middle of Knowhere


Written and translated by Venus
photos by Kit

It all started with a blast on social media.

Kit Chan has been an avid traveller and instagrammer for as long as I can remember. He was never full of himself, mostly sharing snapshots from his trips, with a unique composition of being quiet yet lively, distant yet warm, from countries we have all been, but discovering places we hardly knew existed.

Made-to-order shop sign, in “milling machine ” fonts, commonly seen in former government offices.

One post in particular, a triple shot of Japan's Sakura Island volcano fuming, led to travel-related jobs and Kit decision to expand his photo stories from Instagram to Facebook on 2016, in the name of Knowhere (知埞), a slang meaning “mind where you go/stand” in Cantonese, “and see how things would go”.

The print version of Knowhere , with the volcano shot where it all started.

Then came the invitation from the editor of Humming Publishing in 2018, and the print version of Knowhere hit the stores early this year, four years since the facebook page launched, with the volcano shot as its cover photo.

This summer, Knowhere turned another page, setting up a pop-up shop of the same name at PMQ. While the book's theme was “reflecting on our city from abroad”, Kit described his approach with the Knowhere shop as “going back to my roots”, shifting back his focus to Hong Kong, the city where he grew up and loves most. After all, it seems right to pay tribute to your hometown at this 400 square feet unit, which was once the “home sweet home” of senior civil servants.

With the success of the town's “best kept secret” vintage shop Makee under his belt, Kit added a stronger personal touch into Knowhere. Fans from the old shop would not be disappointed by Kit's ageless collection of mid-century glassware, furniture and accessories, handpicked from Japan and Europe. Locally printed notebooks and t-shirts by creative unit La Jeunesse also enjoyed a successful revival at Knowhere, as we have learnt to appreciating everything “made in Hong Kong”. Items recommended in the book are also available, such as coffee beans from Mr Teru's one-man cafe “Ninkin Shop”at Miyako Island, Japan – while stocks last!

Left: Knowhere made use of every corner of the former residential space, including the leafy balcony; Right: A second hand church bench set by the door for visitors to relax or repent.

The opening exhibition featured more personal works from landscape painter Stephen Wong Chun Hei.

The shop also serves as exhibition space to showcase local artists Kit admires, which he dubbed as “experiments” more than conventional curation. The opening exhibition “Scribbles before Dreamtime”(夢前集碎) featured young talent Stephen Wong Chun Hei, taking viewers away from his well known landscape paintings, to a journey into his mind. The series consisted of candid sketches drawn on his iPad, during his many sleepless nights over the year of 2019. Such fragmented scenes were rightfully presented at Knowhere in a casual, almost messy manner, placed on cabinets, stack of books, or hanging on walls – anywhere but formal.

Collaboration with Sowtale(素謠) took another approach, proudly displaying clay-covered giant crepe-myrtle leaves at the sunlit balcony behind the shop: “It's just too pretty to be wasted as storage room,” said Kit. Ceramic artist Eugenia picked the leaves around her neighborhood, a species commonly found in Hong Kong, and transformed them into one-of-a-kind incense holders.

Handmade Notebooks by La Jeunesse literally made next door, printed and binded years ago at a small factory right across PMQ, now defunct.

Visitors of Knowhere could hardly ignore Kit Chan's vast collection of glassware.

“Coffee & people”, a mini exhibition of baristas all around town.

“Ninjin Shop” Coffee beans from Miyako Island, Japan, as featured in the book.

Cigarette cases so lovely that even a non- smoker could hardly resist.

Right now Kit is busy preparing for Knowhere's risograph poster exhibition, scheduled for November, with yet another creative unit, and “never seen before” photos once considered for print. With the creator's ever changing nature, don't be surprised to see Knowhere evolve again and again - in another form and dimension.

Address:Knowhere, H205, 2/F, Hollywood, PMQ

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