Ecology in the Making - A History of Amateur Naturalists in Hong Kong
Jun 21, 2020

Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre proudly presents its second themed exhibition Ecology in the Making - a History of Amateur Naturalists in Hong Kong. Based on original research conducted by the centre and guest co-curator, Maxime Decaudin, the exhibition spans the period between 1816 and 1984; it explores for the first time the stories of 12 individuals from all walks of life, connected through their contribution to modern ‘ecology’ in Hong Kong.

The exhibition is both an introduction and an invitation to a movement of amateur naturalism in Hong Kong. In the face of dire environmental challenges, it suggests a naturalist spirit of observation as a start to understanding our complex relationship with the natural world.

Through the research by Maxime Decaudin, guest co-curator of the exhibition, the contributions of these individuals made to the knowledge and appreciation of nature transformed Hong Kong’s landscape. He believed that it would be “relevant and inspiring” for the public to learn how nature was discovered, improved and protected in Hong Kong. “The fact that these individuals were not always scientists is a great incentive for all of us to think of our role in future challenges,” Decaudin comments. The exhibition aspires to serve as a reminder that exploring nature is not a privilege exclusive to scientists.

As amateurs, these naturalists were curious about the natural world around them. From animals like butterflies, frogs and birds to geology, these naturalists have made significant contributions to our understanding of nature.

Father Anthony Bogadek was a priest in the 1980s who collected reptiles like snakes eventually becoming a leading expert in Hong Kong. He discovered the Bogadek’s Burrowing Lizard, as well as re-discovering the Romer’s Tree Frog, a species native to Hong Kong once believed to be extinct.

General Eyre, a soldier in the 1840s, was an avid and talented painter of botany; his realistic drawings ultimately contributed to the first scientific, comprehensive catalogue of plants in Hong Kong: Flora Hongkongensis.

Not only foreigners were drawn to discovering nature; Chinese writer Yip Linfeng, active in the 1940s-50s, although he was an ‘armchair naturalist’ who barely left his study to explore the wilderness, his writings are now regarded as classics in Hong Kong, having inspired many.

12 unique stories illustrate the journey of discovering, conserving and popularizing nature. The exhibition displays not only the stories of these individuals but the physical evidence of their contributions: a series of General Eyre’s botanic painting is on display for the first time, reproduced from the collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London; rare books from the past two centuries, like the Narrative of a journey in the interior of China (published 1818); the first comprehensive scientific catalogue of Hong Kong plants: Flora Hongkongensis (published 1861) from HKU Libraries; animal specimens from HKU School of Biological Science and Saint Louis School; fossils from HKU Stephen Hui Geological Museum and a reproduction of the rice paper painting A Bouquet of Flowers from The Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Ecology in the Making - A History of Amateur Naturalists in Hong Kong

Presented By: Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre
Centre Director: Joy Lam
Exhibition Planner: Joanne Cheng

Guest Co-Curator and Exhibition Designer: Maxime Decaudin
Co-Curator: Chun-See Tsao

Exhibits on loan or reproduced from:
Fountain of Love and Life, Canada
HKU Libraries
Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, UK
Saint Louis School, Hong Kong
School of Biological Science, HKU
Stephen Hui Geological Museum, HKU
Taiwan Herborist Culture and Art Studio
The Hong Kong Museum of Art

Visiting Information

Exhibition Period: 7 - 24 Jan; 21 May - 23 Aug 2020
Opening Hours:
Tuesday, Thursday to Sunday: 10:30am - 5:30pm;
Wednesday: 10:30am - 2:30pm
Venue: Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre
Address: 50 Kotewall Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
Admission: Free

About Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre
Jointly established in 2008 by the Environmental Protection Department and The University of Hong Kong, the revitalized historic centre supports nature exploration through exhibitions, ecological tours and green workshops. Through partnerships with universities, the government and the wider community, the centre provides public experiential environmental education to build a community living sustainably and harmoniously with nature.

About Maxime Decaudin
Maxime Decaudin teaches landscape architecture and is currently finishing a PhD in Art History at Sorbonne University in Paris. His doctoral dissertation is on the environmental history of early colonial Hong Kong through the study of landscape representations and transformations. Maxime is a licensed French architect and a co-founder of Atelier Nuno Architects based in Hong Kong.

Media Contact
Louisa Lau
Email: Contact: 6644 9615

Angela Chan
Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre
Email: Contact: 2975 9031

SOURCE / The University of Hong Kong