Hong Kong harbour gets star attraction with sculpture park

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Hong Kong is increasingly burnishing its artistic credentials

Hong Kong's harbourfront is known for glistening skyscrapers and the sight of containerships navigating busy shipping lanes -- but a new art project has added a giant pumpkin, a map of the stars and a pair of disembodied legs to the famous skyline.

The Harbour Arts Sculpture Park, which officially opened on Thursday, is a collection of works by 19 local and international artists including Britain's Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin, Japan's Yayoi Kusama, as well as Jenny Holzer and Hank Willis Thomas from the United States.

The series of installations aims to increase public access to art in a city known more for its exclusive high-end galleries and lucrative auctions.

"I think public art is a unique place to make a statement and I wanted to make a work that people could inhabit and basically become a part of," said Willis Thomas, perched inside a large metal speech bubble.

The work, "Ernest and Ruth", is one of two of his sculptures in the project, which was organised by the nonprofit Hong Kong Arts Centre in collaboration with local partners.

On the harbourfront, intrigued visitors had already begun taking pictures of themselves with Kusama's oversized pumpkin sculpture on Thursday afternoon, while children played among the other works dotted on the grass.

Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong, whose angular golden artwork "Asteroids & Comets" is a constellation of three-dimensional star maps, said younger visitors were the quickest to engage with the art.

"This morning some children they saw the work and just charged right in and started jumping up and down inside without reading any of the captions," he told AFP approvingly.

Hong Kong is increasingly burnishing its artistic credentials and has hosted the annual Art Basel, Asia's largest art fair, since 2013.