Mall's spicy billboard women are back - well, sort of

Top News | Maisy Mok 27 Oct 2020

A giant billboard of three scantily clad girls was up again at a Sham Shui Po shopping mall on Sunday night.

The illustration was designed by multimedia illustrator Elphonso Lam Cheung-kwan in collaboration with Dragon Centre.

Three other new billboards were hung up in the mall on Saturday, designed by comic artist Gum Siu-man, featuring his famous comic characters, such as Sau Nga Chun, dressed in sports attire and swimwear to parody Lam's work.

Lam's six drawings of scantily clad girls in swimwear, sports attire and school uniform were originally displayed on Dragon Centre's billboards from August this year.

But on October 8, Sham Shui Po district councillor Nicole Lau Pui-yuk urged the center to remove them as she received notices from parents complaining they were inappropriate for children.

The billboards were then removed temporarily on October 12, which sparked an online outcry of censorship of artistic expression. Lam then clarified the removal was to avoid the potential damage ahead of Typhoon Nangka's signal 8.

Since then, more than 20 local artists including Gum started to recreate Lam's illustrations by drawing or cosplaying the scantily clad girls in support of the billboard.

Lam said Dragon Centre originally planned to hang his newest artwork onto the billboard after the temporary removal.

But as they had to wait for the Obscene Articles Tribunal's approval, they decided to hang the three parody artworks created by Gum and Lam to add humorous elements to the billboard and prevent the space from being left empty for too long.

"We want to tell the audience that we did not 'kneel down' it was removed because of the typhoon, not because of [Lau], who said that they had succeeded in their appeal for the removal of the billboard," Lam said.

Lam, who was with his friends at the scene to take pictures, said he was quite surprised by the media coverage and the dozens of people on the street taking photos of the poster.

"I think this reflects that everybody wants to have free space," Lam said. "Maybe through this, people will be reminded that they have the right to speak up, the right to create. Women have the right to be sexy it reminds us that our society is full of freedom."

Lam said people do not have to be shocked at images of women dressed sexily as it is very common across the world, such as in Japan and America.

"The world is evolving. Back then people might dress more conservatively but now people might feel safe to wear less and show areas that they are most confident of," he said.

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