Wednesday 16 January 2019

Rising British Chinese art star Faye Wei Wei pays homage to Hong Kong’s illuminated sign-making heritage with installation ‘Neon Spark’ as part of the British Council’s new festival, SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity

Chief Executive Carrie Lam to unveil installation and open festival on 18 January 2019, 10:30am, Parade Ground, Tai Kwun

The British Council’s inaugural SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity – Hong Kong’s first festival of ideas celebrating creativity across the arts, sciences and education – is set to get off to the brightest start possible with the unveiling of a bold new installation conceived and designed by hotly tipped British Chinese artist Faye Wei Wei, named ‘One to Watch’ by British Vogue in 2018. Entitled ‘Neon Spark’ and sponsored by Phillips auction house, the neon installation pays a glowing tribute to the iconic Hong Kong tradition of illuminated sign-making, a sunset industry that has defined the cityscape with its signature vibrant hues for decades.

Brought to life by one of Hong Kong’s last neon light masters, the installation will be unveiled at SPARK’s launch on 18 January 2019 at 10:30am, which will be attended by Faye Wei Wei and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Carrie Lam, who will officially inaugurate the Festival of Ideas. Comprised of 40 free events in collaboration with more than 50 major creative and education partners from the UK and Hong Kong, SPARK takes place from 18-20 January at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s newest centre for heritage and arts.

Exhibited at the SPARK Hub throughout the festival, ‘Neon Spark’ reflects one of the festival’s major themes: duality. Just as the festival is a collaboration between Hong Kong and the UK, as well as a blend of art and science, ‘Neon Spark’ combines the skills of a fine artist with those of a technician working with neon, glass and electricity. 

Artist Faye Wei Wei said:

“I have always been drawn to things in pairs. My compositions often end up being heart-shaped: two lovers dancing, two boxers fighting, a tulip caressing another tulip, a horse in duet with its rider. I guess it’s also to do with the nature of things having an opposite - every flower has a shadow, every moon has a sun.” 

The installation also dovetails neatly with the festival’s aim of igniting a conversation on preserving heritage and culture in the city, while providing an inspirational platform for cross-cultural creativity. After SPARK, ‘Neon Spark’ will be displayed at the British Council in Hong Kong, where Phillips will hold a charity auction later in the year. The proceeds of the auction will be donated to the British Council to support programmes to develop young creative talent. 

Jeff Streeter, Director, British Council in Hong Kong, said:

“We are delighted to announce this exciting collaboration with Faye Wei Wei and Phillips and to be able to present an artwork that so imaginatively encapsulates the theme of the festival. Whether in art, science or education, creativity plays an important role, and ‘Neon Spark’ is a perfect symbol of what can be achieved when creatively minded people are given the opportunity to work together.”

Jonathan Crockett, Deputy Chairman and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Phillips in Asia said: 

“Phillips is incredibly excited to support ‘Neon Spark’ which brings together art, culture and heritage in a vibrant and dynamic form. This collaboration builds on our commitment to supporting a new generation of artists. We look forward to making art more accessible to the public in Hong Kong through a future educational project with the British Council that is on the pulse of what is happening now.” 

‘Neon Spark’ adds extra lustre to an already-intriguing line-up of events across the festival’s three days. Arranged into four themes – Art meets Science, Creative Cities, Altered Realities and Future Skills, the SPARK programme features something for everyone, from live science experiments and virtual time travel to fire-drawing workshops and musical performances with a twist.

During SPARK, Faye Wei Wei will also participate in a panel discussion titled “What is Creativity?”, sharing her views on the importance of creativity and the creative process alongside Dr. Edmund Lee, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Design Centre, Professor Dan Lloyd, Deputy Head of School, School of Biosciences, University of Kent and FUNG Wai Hang, Assistant Artistic Director of Hong Kong Repertory Theatre.

SPARK celebrates creativity across the arts, sciences and education, and offers a platform for cultural exchange between the UK and Hong Kong. The festival is completely free and open to the public, with the majority of events designed to inspire people of all ages, but especially those under 30. Some of the events in the three-day programme require registration at Download the programme pdf here.

Keep up to date with the festival by following the British Council on Hong Kong’s social media channels:

Facebook: BritishCouncilHongKong

Instagram: @britishcouncilhk

Twitter: @hkBritish

Hashtag: #SPARKhk2019 


Notes to Editor

About SPARK: The Science and Art of Creativity

UK/HK: A shared future through creativity and innovation

SPARK is a place for debate, inspiration and visionary thinking. A brand-new British Council Festival of Ideas, SPARK celebrates creativity across the arts, sciences and education, and offers a platform for cultural exchange between the UK and Hong Kong. With more than 40 events over three days and more than 50 creative and education partners from the UK and Hong Kong, SPARK will open eyes and ears with interactive experiences, provocative performances, stimulating talks and other innovative happenings. Young, old or in-between, everyone is welcome. SPARK will take place 18-20 January 2019 at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s newest centre for heritage and arts.

More programme info, biographies and photos of key participants and partners may be downloaded from this dropbox link

About Faye Wei Wei 

British painter Faye Wei Wei graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2016, and has gone on to exhibit internationally. Her bold, poetic works quiver with a lively, lyrical motion, combining classical poise with vibrant immediacy. Faye is represented by Cob Gallery, London. Faye’s artwork, which has been fabricated into neon for ‘Neon Spark’, is called Frail Silver of The Climbing Stars.

About Phillips

Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewellery, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services. Visit for further information.

SPARK Partners

Please find a full list of SPARK creative, education, participating and supporting partners see here


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. They work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. In 2018, they reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. They make a positive contribution to the countries they work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934, they are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. They receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. They have been working with Hong Kong since 1948. SPARK is the culmination of activities to mark their 70th anniversary, which they celebrated in 2018, commemorating 70 years of cultural relations and exchange between the UK and Hong Kong.