was lucky enough to meet worldfamous artist Christo recently at a private supper hosted in his honour by Bonnae Gokson, who’s an ardent admirer of his work. And what a privilege it was to meet this highminded, down-to-earth 81-year-old who still refuses to compromise an inch when it comes to his principles.
Despite spending 20 years and a whopping US$15 million of his own money working on an art installation that would have seen a canopy draped over the Arkansas River in Colorado, Christo had no qualms about abandoning the project in protest against Donald Trump’s presidency. “Our work is about honesty and freedom, two things I don’t think this man has,” he said of the project he conceived with his late wife and creative partner, Jeanne-claude. “I can’t produce anything that would benefit him.”
Assuming the Bulgarian artist could have free time on his hands, Bonnae suggested Christo might like to swaddle Peng Chau in neon fabric or criss-cross Victoria Harbour with one of his buoyant creations, saying “Trump’s loss could be our gain.” Considering 1.2 million people flocked to see Christo’s The Floating Piers installation on Lake Iseo in Italy last year, she could well be right.
Sadly, Christo doesn’t have a maritime masterpiece in store for Hong Kong, but he’s far from twiddling his thumbs. His latest project, an immense amber monument in Abu Dhabi to be made from 410,000 aluminium barrels, looks set to be the largest sculpture in the world. Let’s hope political mayhem doesn’t thwart this project, which has been a painstaking four decades in the making. For our full interview with the tenacious artist, turn to page 130.
Equally inspiring and true to their word are six champions of change who vowed to improve our world—and are doing just that. Charlene Co meets the winners of Rolex’s Awards for Excellence and hears about their groundbreaking projects. Turn to page 152 to discover more about ice stupas that combat drought in Ladakh, a young engineer combining textile science and robotics to help less-able people walk, and smartphone software that’s reducing blindness in rural Africa.
Elsewhere, the ever-stylish Denise Lo gives us a tour of her beautiful home (p.142), menswear entrepreneur Roger Chan shares his sartorial secrets (p.78) and I slope off to northern California on a food safari (p.122). Last but not least, our cover star, jewellery designer Diana Zhang, tells Chloe Street why she’s as picky at accepting clients as she is in selecting gems—see page 114. Fingers crossed I’ll make the grade!
WALKING ON WATER Left: Christo laid The Floating Piers on Italy’s Lake Iseo last year. Below: The 81-year-old artist at work on the project