Tong’s paternal grandfather was a deckhand who arrived in Hong Kong from Shanghai after the fall of the last imperial Chinese dynasty in 1911, lured by better job prospects in the relatively stable British colony. His mother’s family were landlords in Southern China, Tong believes that they ‘came to Hong Kong and probably escaped certain death at the hands of Mao’s advancing Communist armies.’
Tong grew up in Hong Kong, singing the British National Anthem throughout his school years. He came to the UK to continue his education only returning to Hong Kong in 2012.
Tong says, ‘I traced the history of my family in a bid to find out how two of the most influential people in history, Queen Victoria and Chairman Mao, affected my family. Giving equal importance to new photographs, found photographs and writing, this project reconnects me with the Hong Kong of the past, through the recollections of my extended family, humanising the political and social upheaval that took my family to Hong Kong and eventually to the United Kingdom.’
Taken as a whole, The Queen, The Chairman and I connects with themes of multiculturalism and migration, heritage and empire.
An Impressions Gallery touring exhibition curated by Anne McNeill.