Hak Chu/Pak Chu
Hak Chu/Pak Chu
Lee, Nathan
58cm height x 76 (diam)cm width
Accession Number
City of Burnaby Public Art Collection
Public Art
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Nathan Lee, Artist Statement: In the 1990s, during a renovation designed to preserve this site's heritage, several artifacts were discovered under the Fairacres Cottage. Among them was a single white "Pak Chu". These tiny game pieces and their black counterparts, "Hak Chu", were used by early Chinese labourers in games of chance. Significantly, they indicate the presence of an early Chinese community on this site. The existence of these artifacts inspires curiosity and encourages discovery. They challenge us to reexamine what we know about this place - to explore how new discoveries can inform our interpretation of history. Century Garden was created in 1967 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. In return for joining the confederation, British Columbia was guaranteed a railway that would extend across the province's impassable mountain range, fuelling expansion and bringing prosperity to the fledgling colony. This commitment would set the stage for the government-supported enlistment of, exploitation of, and racial discrimination against Chinese immigrants for the next hundred years. Despite racial discrimination, a distinct Chinese Canadian population would contribute economically, socially and culturally to British Columbia's development during this time. Ironically, 'Asiatic'-specific immigration restrictions were not removed until 1967, the same year of the Centennial Celebration and the creation of the Century Garden. It is clear that the first 100 years of confederation looked very different depending on who you were. How, what, and whether we celebrate is a matter of perspective.
Nathan Lee was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. He has taken a broad approach to traditional art and design disciplines, applying his formal training in landscape architecture to a career in public art and designed objects. Nathan brings over a decade and a half of design and fabrication experience to each new project. His diverse portfolio and hands-on approach has allowed him to explore a broad range of subject matters from boatbuilding to beekeeping. As a craftsman he has shaped wood, molded concrete, and engineered paper. His whimsical approach to site-specific installations has been well received by municipalities including Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, New Westminster, and Port Moody, all of which have awarded him commissions. He has also exhibited work at nationally recognized venues such as the Royal Ontario Museum, The Museum of Vancouver, and the Design Exchange. Nathan graduated from the University of British Columbia’s Landscape Architecture program in 2000. In 2004, He co-founded the award-winning firm, Contexture Design. In early 2016, Nathan joined Hapa Collaborative Landscape Architecture to lead ‘Hapa Lab’ – an experimental public art and design initiative within the firm. During his time at Hapa, Nathan successfully led and executed several public installations including the Megaphone, The Apiary Almanac, and the mural at Rochester Park. In 2017, Nathan returned to his independent work as Contexture Design, continuing his playful exploration of history, place, and materials through public art.