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Daily Archives: June 29, 2009

Macau at higher risk of H1N1 outbreak

Macau yesterday reported the second locally infected H1N1 influenza case with the source of infection being unknown.
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The colours of Macau

By António Espadinha Soares

The enchantment of Macau on foreigners is well known, even in this time of rapid urban development when it can be said that the city is losing some of the charm it once had. Not so long ago, an Australian artist named Murray Zanoni came to Macau while visiting friends from his native home who had settled in Hong Kong. The city enchanted Murray as well, as he painted a series of watercolours that his friend, photographer Bob Davis, describes as “his last greatest bit of work that he did.”

Murray Zanoni, who unfortunately passed on five years ago, was born in Australia in 1947. He studied at the Gordon Institute of Technology in Melbourne and originally worked as a draftsman, a skill that is evident in the painstaking details of his paintings of Macau city streets. He first came to Macau in 1982 on work and didn't return until 1990, after which he made six separate visits of one or three months during a period of five years. Bob Davis, Zanoni's close friend whom he was staying with in Hong Kong, suggested that Zanoni should publish a book with all of his paintings of Macau. Davis spoke to the Macau Daily Times about his life-long friend and this project to preserve the latter's work, and part of Macau's heritage.

The book was published in 1995, and at the time the Portuguese administration said that it wanted to buy several copies as a give-away gift to tourists. Davis had several copies printed, but, as he explains “I did my publishing thing and then somebody, I can't remember the name, at the last minute said “no we don't want them”. I over printed it, and this is what the remain is.”

After being left with hundreds of copies of a book that was no longer wanted by the administration, Davis says that a friend of his who's been in Macau for a long time, Warren Rook, tried to help him by selling the book. “He was eventually doing it but it didn't work out” Davis said, “He only had it in his antique shop in Coloane.” I then asked him if he was trying to take advantage of the new infrastructure being set up by the government and individuals who are trying to promote Macau's creative industries. “Well, this is the beginning with my friend here” he replied as he pointed to David Higgins, president of the local wine lounge Macau Soul where we did the interview.

As for the actual book, it's a splendid display of what Macau used to be, and in some places still is, alongside a wonderfully written text with a brief depiction of what made this city. The sense of preservation for posterity didn't hit Zanoni until he saw some of his earliest subjects lost to redevelopment, and the impending return to Chinese administration gave him “an added incentive to record, before it [was] too late, a place that has been so unique for so long” he wrote in the introductory note to his book.

In the book's opening flap, Zanoni also wrote, “I feel a great sense of purpose when confronted with the challenge of having to travel to a particular place and return with a set of drawings that will describe that experience”. Looking at the numerous paintings of iconic landmarks, old inner-harbour streets (which I took great joy in trying to recognize), ships and people in their daily activities, I think it's something he accomplished quite well.

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