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Sunday, 30 May 2010


So that was that.
What a beautiful ending to Hope and Glory!

We had such a lovely last day, thousands came through the space, many friends dropped by to say goodbye to the exhibition. It was a joy to watch. Hope and Glory is just so different to any exhibition I've ever seen.
I stood in the corner with Amanda watching as little kids ran around laughing, arty teenagers taking thousands of photos, little old ladies looking bemused and people generally clambering over sculptures, screaming from the horror movie and laughing at the lighter films in the show.
A really wonderful energy running through the space.
The nicest thing was people came up to me constantly yesterday for photos or autographs but also to shake my hand and to thank me for the show! This was really very touching for me. That people understood the endeavor of the exhibition and recognised it in a simple and direct communication. It's nice when people say thank you.
I talked to a really old guy that just couldn't stop smiling and expressing his amazement at the scale and scope of the work. Another guy told me he'd been to the show twice a week since it had opened.
All very sentimental i know but it really cheered me up and made me realise we did something good in this town. It was worth all the time and effort.

So what next?

With much interest expressed for overseas to move the show I took the leap and rented a warehouse and am today packing the entire exhibition and putting it into storage. I will then offer the show for free to any museum anywhere in the world that's interested.

But what's really more exciting, is the next project. I won't reveal what it is yet but this thing will make Hope and Glory look like a school art project.

Thank you to all the people of HK and overseas who have made this show an unprecedented success. With limited time and money, no advertising other than a few posters and emails, we got 62,000 people to drag themselves all the way to Taikoo Place.
Overwhelmingly the reviews from press and public have been incredibly positive.
We pretty much achieved everything we hoped to. We ran a series of lively forums, had endless school and university groups, corporate and art tours, parties and fun stuff. We developed cultural software (we now have a team that are capable of running an entire art museum!). We got press all over the world including NY Times, Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune and even a pick of the month from ArtForum.
We came in under budget and achieved the numbers we set out to get and, from the responses from people interviewed, we have made a genuine positive impact on Hong Kong culture. Not everyone loved the show I'm sure but at the very least we certainly got people talking, on a massive scale, about art in HK, and hopefully inspired other artists to follow our level of ambition.

And on top of that, one of the coolest things was that Anthony Gormley came to see the show too! He's a British artist who is referenced in a couple of the films in the show and I had the pleasure of showing him those works. Super nice guy.

Me and Anthony!

We will be doing a pop up show sometime soon to launch the book and some other product that never made it to the show in time. Toys, t-shirts and certain bits of the show like the neon signs, will all be for sale.

Onwards and upwards!!


Friday, 28 May 2010


party tonight!
last day tomorrow!

Monday, 24 May 2010


I once had a girlfriend who would cry every time she had an orgasm. I know a statement like this is ripe for sarcasm but it was as if she was consumed by loss. That the moment of happiness had slipped away uncontrollably.
Maybe my life is a situation comedy, a series of anecdotes.
I had dinner with friends at the weekend and sat next to an old Italian guy. He was a chef and we small talked. A few days later I met a friend for coffee at the Mandarin and the Italian was sitting in the middle of the restaurant alone on a table with 2 empty chairs. We sat down as if we'd been expected and talked a little, swapping stories of our histories, discussing books and films. The Italian asked us if we were hungry and then got up, walked into the kitchen, where, we saw through the glass windows, the chefs made way for him and allowed him access to their supplies. He bought back the best risotto I've ever had in my life. It turns out the man was Antonio Carluccio, OBE. One of the most respected chefs in the world.
He was 72 and a very simple man, polite, funny and considerate. I really like him. I wonder if I'd liked the risotto more if I'd known this? I found out later that he 'accidentally' stabbed himself in the chest a couple of years back. If I'd known I would've wanted to see the scar. I would've shown him mine too.

Friday, 21 May 2010


A great review from ArtForum. Thanks Charles. Thanks Claire.

We finally got a review in SCMP. They really liked the show too. And a nice write up in Wall Street Journal.

On the whole people enjoy the show. Even little kids love it and run around the giant playground. The show is accessible to the un-initiated but I don't think it would be if there weren't such depth behind the facade. Without the year long conceptualising it would just be disneyland on crack.

Meanwhile I gotta finish this triptych for ArtHK which starts next Wednesday. I strongly recommend you go. It's always packed full of awesome art from 150 international galleries. See you there.


Sunday, 16 May 2010


It's Monday and only a couple of weeks left for the show.

My buddy Greg has been here to visit. He has been in China doing business. He told me that Europe will be to the Chinese what Venice is to the rest of the world, a once mighty city, now just a tourist trap. That China has moved beyond the West already and they will no longer need us other than for 'amusement'.

We had an amazing turnout for the exhibition with 62000 people coming to see the work. And the wonderful thing was 90% were local Hong Kong Chinese.
This was very satisfying to see as I'd always hoped there would be an impact on the local community so clearly the word of mouth has been working, as has the generous pushing by all involved. Dan Wu, Grace Huang , Race Wong, Prodip, Alivenotdead, our staff and many more have all been promoting the show on blogs and facebook pages.

People who come to the show take a lot of photos of the work. It's a ripple expanding from the splash we've made. Well, I know HK people will take photos of anything, mostly what they eat at restaurants, but still, it's all about sharing information and recording experiences, so it's all good. Someone asked me why I would allow people to take photos of the work as it wasn't the usual practice in art galleries and museums. I don't see what is negative about people taking photos of my work.

I've certainly made a few complaints over the weeks but I think I have to take some of it back. The government took a huge risk by giving us any money at all and it sends out a wonderfully positive message to the HK art community; that the opportunity is there for support.
As far as I know this is the biggest contribution they have ever made to a HK artist project and they must be applauded and respected for this support (as should Swire). So they may be a little bureaucratic about how the event works and how we spend the money, but then so would I be if I gave someone a million HK$.
So to all those at the HKSAR Mega Events Fund, thank you so much for giving us some funding. We are extremely grateful.

Hopefully this opens the door for more artists in the future.

Building Hope and Glory has been a tremendous learning experience for all involved. I now know how to run an art museum! From construction, to PR, to accounts, to admin and event management. And so do Gary, Ingrid, Lyn, Viola, Coco and all our other staff.
We've managed to develop a full on art organisation. We can deal with government, corporate, audience, education, celebrity, kids. disabled....and handle maintenance, technology, security, finance. construction.....and on and on.
We've genuinely developed cultural 'humanware'.

I'm not sure what happens to all that knowledge and experience after the show. Maybe we should build our own permanent space out on that wasteland at West Kowloon.....

I think we'll all start work on  the next project and see where it takes us but in the meantime for any artists or organisations out there, we have a wealth of information which you are welcome to access. For artists of HK especially, my door is open, you can have all my contacts, government application forms, inside info, whatever you need. Even the grumpy 60s,70s and 80s HK artists who think the show is shit. All you need to do is reach out and I will give you whatever information you need for free. Email me direct at:

Amazing show. Amazing People. No complaints. Everybody wins.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

faint mohawk

It's Sunday and it's been a great week at Hope and Glory.
The numbers keep going up daily, yesterday around 1500 people came through. I dropped by in the afternoon and there was a great atmosphere in the space.
I was introduced to a guy called Carsten. I had a quick chat with him and he said he was an artist too working out of Europe doing big installations. He  told me he didn't generate his own projects but was often invited to produce installations.
After he left I was told he was Carsten Holler. He's actually a very famous artist internationally and I realise I've seen his work before at the Tate Modern because he built this awesome sculpture in the main turbine hall that consisted of slides (like from a kids playground) that were a few stories tall that you could get in to slide down to the ground floor from the top of the museum.
I googled him when I got back to work in the afternoon and looked at some of his work. He has a lot of fairytale and fairground reference in his work. I wonder if when he walked around the show he thought I'd been inspired by him. Here's some of his work and some that's a bit like mine....

I guess it's normal that artist stumble across the same visual references and are inspired by the same stories and mythologies.

I wish I'd known his work better so when I met him we could've swapped stories, he probably could have taught me much. He shows work all over the world in great spaces.

We had a forum on Friday at the show where some local arts people talked about their projects around Hong Kong. One guy, Wallace Chang Ping-Hung, talked about the redevelopment of Kai Tak, really clever guy with lots of excellent ideas. Others, Ah Kok (Wong Chuck Kok) and Horace Tse, talked about the arts community out at San Po Kong. I didn't even know there was one!
It was re-assuring to know there are other people in HK just getting on with it, making art with whatever resources they have an that there are intelligent and thoughtful people trying to do positive cultural development in Hong Kong.

We were picked by Artforum as one of the best shows in the world right now, here's a quote from the review:

'But therein lies the show’s cleverness. Birch’s aim is not to mimic a museum or break new boundaries, but to craft “a metaphorical world, a conceptual circus” to entertain the masses and create new possibilities for art presentation in the city. When his work is taken on these terms, it’s hard to find fault.'

Not bad. Biggest art publication in the world gives us respect. And, if you didn't know, we had a half page amazing review in the International Herald Tribune with great photos too. So along with the NY Times article it's been a very good week for the show.

Meanwhile I need to get back to painting, managed to finish 2 huge ones over the last 2 weeks and am now on the next couple. Trying to get something nice ready for ArtHK as well as overdue commissioned work. Would rather be just hanging at hope and Glory all day though, it's just fun being there and talking with people.

Stuff in production at my studio. These 2 of Race Wong....


Thursday, 13 May 2010


time is running out for Hope and glory.
only 2 more weeks and the whole show is dismantled and recycled.
if you haven't already been, here's some shots of what you're missing.....

Monday, 10 May 2010


some behind the scenes stuff and story of the making of....


Saturday, 8 May 2010


Feel free to print this out and stick it on you office noticeboard!

Friday, 7 May 2010


2 part brief explanation of the exhibition and what it all means....

part one

part two

Thursday, 6 May 2010


A lot of people came through the show today, I gave a little tour to them. They seemed genuinely engaged and amazed. It was lovely to see, it really picked me up. I got talking to a few people after and I was whining on about no support and the daily dramas. They were very sympathetic and keen to help by spreading the word. I caught myself acting like a little bitch.

Then i spent a few hours chatting with Lyn and Roy, going through the accounts. Strangely it cheered me up!
Because as I turned the pages of receipts and invoices, from lighting bills, to carpentry, to neons, to film production... i realised just what a wealth of productivity the whole adventure has been. All these hundreds of people going about their various tasks on dozens of pieces of art that make up this mammoth exhibition. All that energy stored up in steel and lightbulbs and harddrives. Quite extraordinary. We really did build the impossible.

OK, it's not perfect but can you tell me anyone or anywhere you've seen anything on this scale built anywhere in the world for this little money, with this level of quality and content? And in 3D!

Only 3 weeks left. Make the most of it!


Monday, 3 May 2010


Here's some info on the upcoming forum, you are welcome to join in:


Fri 07 May 2010 . Forum 1 'Art as Place'
Dates: 7 May, 2010

1/F Cornwall House
Island East
Hong Kong
(MTR: Quarry bay, Exit A)

Time: 7 – 9 pm
The HOPE & GLORY project seeks to move beyond the idea of the art object to explore the idea of art as a place of transformative experience, a ‘third space' of deeper experience in our daily lives. The ‘Art as Place' forum invites a diverse group of Hong Kong arts activists from both the visual and performing arts fields who will share their experiences in creating positive interventions through art in the Hong Kong social landscape. The forum will open with an improvisational, interactive performance within the installation by the Symbiotic Dance Troupe.


Fri 14 May 2010 . Forum 2 'Re-Generation, De-Generation'
Dates: 14 May, 2010

1/F Cornwall House
Island East
Hong Kong
(MTR: Quarry bay, Exit A)

Time: 7 – 9 pm
Hosted by the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, in conjunction with the
International Academy for Cultural Leadership at the University of Hong Kong.
Today, East Asia is experiencing rapid and unprecedented urbanization. Art is
increasingly being viewed as a ‘creative industry' indispensable to tourism and the
economy. Within this context, many governments and metropolitan authorities are seeking to promote the Arts and to ‘regenerate' urban spaces.
In Re-Generation, De-Generation artists, performers and cultural critics explore the
relationship between art, cities and community. In particular, they consider the deep-rooted assumptions that underlie the concept of ‘regeneration': namely, that urban spaces are prone to decay and therefore require a counter-process of continual revival. But is this true? What are the implications of cultural interventions in the name of renewal? And what would happen if - in the spirit of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities - Hong Kong was imagined as a multitude of possible cities which art could help to make visible?


Fri 28 May 2010 . Forum 3 'HOPE & GLORY : The Making'
Dates: 28 May, 2010

1/F Cornwall House
Island East
Hong Kong
(MTR: Quarry bay, Exit A)

Time: 7 – 9 pm
The installation project HOPE & GLORY was made possible by the participation of many individuals: in Hong Kong, China – and across the globe. In HOPE & GLORY:The Making, artist Simon Birch discusses the collaborative nature of contemporary art-making with friends - fellow artists, designers and others - who helped to realize the project. The forum is at once a celebration of art-making as a communal, interactive and participatory process, and a critical reflection on the challenges of making large-scale art.

* The HOPE & GLORY forums are free admission, but please note that places are limited and pre-registration is required. To register please email Maria Sin at Registration will be on a first come first served basis.

*The HOPE & GLORY forums and related educational programmes are generously
supported by a grant from Louis Vuitton.
Co-organiser: Centre for Humanities and Medicine, University of Hong Kong

Sunday, 2 May 2010


after watching Iron Man 2 and being re-energised, we'll start this week by rolling out new posters that hopefully appeal to a broader demographic.

Saturday, 1 May 2010



Today I met some people at the exhibition to talk to them on the work and I caught myself telling them that I'm not sure building the show was worthwhile.
That's not like me at all normally, I'm usually very positive about it all. But I've been over-hassled all week with contractors threatening us, Swire giving me a $60k bill for cigarette burns in the carpet where people had been smoking at the opening party, contractors refusing to change broken lightbulbs unless we pay them more and on and on....

When I started the ball rolling on this whole thing it was with such a spirit of adventure and courage. I felt a wave of idealism and that this monster of an art project would only have positive repercussions...and not for me, more for Hong Kong, it's artists and cultural environment. And many people shared and collaborated in that energy, it felt like a crusade.

I guess the story of the show really has matched the concept of the show, the hero-myth, triumph over adversity. The story isn't over yet so we still have hurdles to cross, enemies to vanquish and victories to achieve. I'm sure in retrospect this will all add up to be a fascinating journey. And as with any other hero-myth, you have to go through the dark stuff to get to the good stuff. Bizarrely we actually have real villains on our story.

The reaction to the show from the audience has been amazing. People seem genuinely moved and engaged by it all.