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Hong Kong streets exhibit umbrella protest art

Images from Reuters video
Pro-democracy protesters have transformed the streets of Hong Kong into an impromptu outdoor gallery displaying politically-inspired art from what's being called the "umbrella revolution."

Hong Kong's demonstrators had used their umbrellas to protect themselves from police firing teargas. Ever since then images and designs of umbrellas and yellow ribbons have been posted as a mark of solidarity and the "umbrella revolution" became a protest art phenomenon.

The most recent addition to the various paintings, doodles and banners decorating the Admiralty district is a giant statue built from recycled wooden blocks.

The sculpture—a man holding a yellow umbrella—has become one of the city's latest tourist attractions.

"It is no longer a revolution. I mean, it used to have a meaning, the umbrella, of resisting the so-called, the police's unreasonable force, but now the artist has turned it into a positive manner. It's just standing tall. It is no longer holding like this, it's like this. And from my angle I see it is just protecting the buildings behind us," said Tina So, a former investment banker turned local artist.

Scenes of tear gas wafting between some of the world's most valuable buildings, violent clashes, mass disruptions to business and commuter chaos over the past 11 days have underscored the challenges Beijing faces in imposing its will on Hong Kong.

The protests, triggered by China's decision in August to rule out direct elections in 2017, have already caused a back-log in the former British colony's Legislative Council where scores of meetings have been cancelled.

"It's very clear that the responsibility to put forward a so-called solution to the present situation is on the government. That talking about all these constitutional and legal issues may not be able to lead to any feasible solution to resolve the existing situation. And it must be the responsibility of the government and only the government can provide the solution to the present situation," said protest leader and cofounder of Occupy Central with Peace and Love, Benny Tai.

Protest numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred people at various sites around the city, but activists have managed to keep up their blockade of some major roads. Tai said they would not give up.

"We will continue, will continue. Again remember what has caused the people to come out. It's not out of a call from the federation of students, Scholarism or Occupy Central. It's because of the teargas. It's because of the government failing to respond to the demands of the people, for the universal suffrage and the people out there. That's the demands and that is something only the government can deliver," he added.

The latest protests have attracted artists from all over Hong Kong to add their voices to the demonstrations.

The streets have been paved with artwork and slogans calling for democracy. Near the Legislative Council building, there's another protest sculpture, this one made out of umbrellas.

"We are making installation. We are making sculpture that are related to our own studies. I think our parents and also citizens will think that, OK, we are not having fun. We are trying to combine what we learn from school and also what we want to fight for together and then show to the public," said Charlotte Lee, one of the students who built the art work.

The few protesters on the streets are still using umbrellas to protect themselves from torrential downpours and the tropical sun.

On Friday (October 10), student leaders are expected to hold talks with government officials in a bid to ease tensions, but they have little hope of finding a solution to end the protests. — Reuters