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Art & Culture: Pop art duo FriendsWithYou giant characters spread love and fun across Hong Kong for an interactive experience with West Kowloon neighbourhood

HONG KONG – Spotted some colourful and charismatic characters hopping on and off Hong Kong trams and the Star Ferry lately? They are the eye-popping artistic creations of the international pop art duo FriendsWithYou, made up of Samuel Borkson from Florida in the US and Arturo Sandoval III from Cuba. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has teamed up with FriendsWithYou in a fun and imaginative partnership to promote the “Hong Kong Neighbourhoods – West Kowloon” programme.

Through a series of online flash mob videos, AR interactive experiences, and gigantic art installations, the happy characters are taking international audiences on a virtual journey across Hong Kong and its world-beating attractions, highlighting the incredible diversity of artistic elements in West Kowloon and encouraging people to explore Hong Kong from an artistic and cultural perspective.

Samuel and Arturo said: “We are thrilled to put our latest art collection, Happy World, on show in Hong Kong, which is the first event of such a remarkable scale for our works in Asia. We hope our collection can spread a message of harmony and joy – the ingredients of life needed in every corner of the world right now. This collection features a family of brightly-coloured characters, including the lead character Little Cloud who will be transformed into a huge inflatable sculpture and greet the public in Art Park in the West Kowloon Cultural District, and other characters including Rainbow Worm, Jelly, Hug Bug, and Peanut Butter. The group will hop around Hong Kong while sharing their friendship and love and connecting with people from every walk of life. We sincerely hope to bring positive and hopeful vibes to everyone as they spread the vision of Happy World.”

The FriendsWithYou characters flaunt their signature smile and greet the public in the West Kowloon Cultural District Art Park from today (23 September) to 14 October. Join them to admire the scenic skyline and the brilliant night view at Victoria Harbour!

FriendsWithYou Collaborates with Superlatives of Hong Kong and the World 

The characters by FriendsWithYou have already made their mark in a host of Hong Kong’s best-known landmarks and attractions and some of them are even the world’s number ones. They have:

  • Visited the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), one of the world’s largest and most ambitious cultural projects;
  • Admired one of the world’s most spectacular skylines at the Sky Corridor of the High Speed Rail Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, and called in on the Avenue of Stars; 
  • Ridden on Hong Kong’s trams, which have a place in the Guinness World Records as the largest double-decker tram fleet in service (Hong Kong, 2021);
  • Shopped for seasonal fruit in the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, one of Hong Kong’s biggest markets of its kind;
  • Sailed on the Star Ferry – named as one of the world’s “50 Places of a Lifetime” – for sensational views across Victoria Harbour.

The HKTB has followed in their footsteps and recorded their adventures in a collection of fun-packed videos which have been uploaded to the webpage – giving people who are unable to visit Hong Kong for the time being the chance to share in the excitement of its world-class attractions.

Inflatable characters bring a giant splash of colour to Art Park

After their tour of Hong Kong, 12 giant inflatable installations of the characters will take up temporary residence from 23 September to 14 October in the Art Park of the WKCD, where Hong Kong people can create their own photo memories with them. The most eye-catching of the characters, Little Cloud, will be more than three storeys high and longer than a bus, while Rainbow will be larger than a minibus. New family members Jelly and Rainbow Worm will also make their global debut in the Art Park. Get ready to see these larger-than-life characters in person as they enjoy their stay in the WKDC Art Park, and bounce around from time to time.

At the same time, the Hong Kong Space Museum will display the iconic smiley face of the FriendsWithYou characters on its exterior wall, radiating energy and optimism to passers-by. Be sure to catch the delightful scenes and share them on Instagram. 

When to see the FriendsWithYou installations in Art Park:

23 September 2021 : 4 pm – 9:30 pm (last admission at 9 pm)

24 September 2021 – 14 October 2021 : 11 am – 9:30 pm (last admission at 9 pm)

Meet the FriendsWithYou family with an AR experience on your mobile phone

As well as their very public appearances, the FriendsWithYou characters will appear virtually from 23 September at six landmark locations: The WKCD Arts Park, the Xiqu Centre, the Yau Ma Tei Tin Hau Temple, the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, Temple Street Night Market, and the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. Visitors can scan QR codes displayed at these locations with their phones, and the FriendsWithYou characters will magically appear to take them on an in-depth tour of West Kowloon and introduce its arts and cultural highlights. The characters will even pose for selfies with visitors.

The FriendsWithYou family

Brightly-coloured and radiating love, harmony, and peace, the FriendsWithYou family members are caring and fun-loving, connecting with everyone they meet and spreading happiness and compassion.

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