+852 Photo series: Glamour in unglamorous places in Hong Kong.
Finding glamour in unglamorous places is a photo series that shows Hong Kong’s deviation from traditional perceptions of beauty. The photos show gems in neglected alleys and forgotten street-corners and it gives a refreshing idea on glamour and beauty.
Photographer Saskia Wesseling: “ I capture images of unstuck beauty in unlikely places, glory in unrigged alleys. I love the feeling of being overwhelmed by tumult but suddenly seeing a treasure between the cracks. I am not sure other people see the treasure so I bask in the joy of the discovery. Finding beauty where you expect it is one thing, but this treasure is all the more valuable as it is so unexpected”, Wesseling explained.
Saskia Wesseling allowed her senses to tune into the raw rhythms and patterns she encounters in the city – art in the boldness of ordinary things.
‘Creativity is finding the silence of beauty in the ordinariness of things.’ , says Saskia Wesseling.
Within deterioration that characterises Hong Kong’s back streets, she has found inspiration in the unexpected order and textural treasure or urban rhythms.
Who Wants To Become A Geisha?
A young Japanese student, on her first steps to become a Geisha in training by Sayuki – originally from Australia.
The Geisha tradition – once securing a certain ‘start status’ for young women – is about to disappear from Japanese daily life, degrading into being merely becoming a tourist attraction.
Ever fewer girls want to sacrifice their whole life to this profession. Therefore, the Australian born Sayuki (Fiona Caroline Graham) has set up a training programme for Japanese young women to perform as a Geisha while also have time to study at university.
This is something that the rest of the Geisha community is not yet ready for to accept. Fiona Caroline Graham (born in Melbourne Australia) was the first Caucasian woman working as a Geisha in Japan. She made her debut as a geisha in 2007 in Tokyo under the name Sayuki (紗幸).
The Australian lady Fiona wishes to give Japanese girls the chance to study in university, while being trained by her to become a Geisha.
To become a Geisha is normally a fulltime job, but few girls in Japan are interested in this training and aim for another kind of career. In the 1920s, there were over 80.000 geisha in Japan. Today there are far fewer. The exact number is unknown – but estimates run from 1000-2000 in total.
The Geisha culture is slowly but surely disappearing. Visiting a Geisha has become more a tourist attraction, rather than it is really part of today’s culture in Japan.
The contrast of studying in University to become an independent thinking individual and being trained and drilled by a Geisha mother is huge.
This girl is the first to try to live into both worlds. Will she succeed?
Born 04.04.1972 in Amsterdam
“New cultures have shown me new ‘ordinariness’,
new forms of the everyday; which are beautiful to me’
Saskia:” It’s in my DNA to be inquisitive and to explore and so my life has been a series of creative outings, expeditions around the globe.”
In her home country, Holland, Saskia worked as a news journalist and then later, in her early thirties, she made radio documentaries. Saskia:”I felt totally at home in my life and in my chosen genre. I thrived on telling stories for my work.
Being comfortable is nice, but it didn’t feed my creative inquisitiveness. So I made the unsettling decision to leave Holland. With my family, I travelled widely and challenged myself creatively in unfamiliar surroundings.”
From a structured start in Zurich to cultural adventures in Cairo, from the crazy cosmopolitan of Guangzhou to the wild city of Hong Kong, constant change generated a need for Saskia to find beauty in the chaos
As she grappled with new ways of living, words could no longer effectively convey her experience. Instead, she turned to photography, as she had done throughout her life; as a student she had won a photography award, sponsored by the Stedelijk Museum and the Parool newspaper, for a picture series about Amsterdam.
Now, she captures images of unstruck beauty in unlikely places, glory in unrigged alleys. The cultural earthquakes have made her the artist she is today. She has returned to the language of photography to seize the beauty and grace that she cherishes as ever-present in the teeming, raw chaos of city life.
Wesseling’s photos have also recently been used to tell a story in National Geographic Traveller UK (November 2017 issue). Earlier this year, she was travelling in the far North of Yunnan where she was able to capture pictures that shows Tibetans living a rural life high up in the mountains.
The South China Morning Post published a series in the Post magazine from Wesseling. She stumbled upon the first back alley barber while she was wandering around to find her beauty in unlikely places.
While being doing a Master class from Magnum Photos in Tokyo, Wesseling made an intriguing portrait of nowadays Geisha life. This she sees as a long-term project. Wesseling commit herself in the coming years to study this change in Japanese culture for a longer period of time.
Last year Saskia Wesseling had a solo exhibition in quirky Sai Yin Pun in Hong Kong:
+852: Glamour in unglamorous places.
If you would like to see more of Saskia’s work you can check the links below: