His award-winning photo series Chai Wan Fire Station, which documents the daily comings and goings of a fire station courtyard, is a soothing spectacle that beckons viewers to enjoy each frame slowly, so as to uncover the differences of each shot.
“While working at my workshop one day, I discovered the bird’s-eye view of Chai Wan Fire Station through the ventilation window of the washroom for the first time. What I saw was more eventful than I thought. Apart from undergoing physical training, the firemen of this station also played volleyball, washed fire trucks and held guided tours for students. All this happened within this little square area that I observed and framed from above. Days and months passed, scenes began to repeat themselves. I started to slow down and patiently wait for the next unexpected scene.”
The pastel green courtyard forms the backdrop for each scene, populated by the local heroes and their everyday comings and goings. Volleyball games were a daily occurrence, as were rigorous training drills that look deceptively simple from above. The uniformity of the series is not only pleasing to the eye but also a testament to its subjects – the firemen below are nothing short of structured and disciplined. In order to create the series’ characteristically consistent overhead view, Chan Dick spent months with his camera, held by hand through a narrow window, patiently waiting for the opportune moment.
Unfortunately, Chan Dick no longer works from the same studio that overlooks the fire station. Beyond being a well-equipped photography space, every corner of his new studio features notable remnants of times gone past.
As the afternoon unfolded, I slowly came to realise that Chan Dick’s work embodied a third quality that was nothing short of compelling: his love for Hong Kong is deeply rooted in everything and the surroundings that he grew up in are thematically evident in each body of work. The subtle nuances of nostalgia and his unwavering desire to preserve the Hong Kong that he remembers is the true draw card that makes Chan Dick’s photography unforgettable.