A Countess From Hong Kong

Belilios Public School uniform, cloth hanger, 1967 Hong Kong 50-cent coins, vinyl record This Is My Song by Petula Clark (1967), motor system, 19 x 68 x 134 cm (still), 2016.

A Countess From Hong Kong was the last film directed by Charlie Chaplin and filmed entirely at Pinewood Studios outside London. With Hong Kong as its backdrop the film was set during the Vietnam War and the Cultural Revolution in China, it was released in spring 1967, shortly before the outbreak of riots staged against British colonial rule. Although the film had little box office success, its theme song This Is My Song that was written by Chaplin and recorded by Petula Clark reached No. 1 in the UK and became a worldwide hit.


During the 1967 riots in Hong Kong, the leftist movement spread to all levels of society including pupils in local high schools. In November 1967, Janet Tsang, then 15 was arrested with 13 other students from Belilios Public School in North Point when they attempted to block teachers from taking away a student who was expelled from the traditional elite grammar school founded by the colonial government. Tsang spearheaded a fund-raising program for a fellow student whose scholarship was scrapped. As a result the school did not allow students on site with any more than 1 HK dollar. A necklace made from two 50 cents coins from 1967 is incorporated into the work.


The 14 students, who were expelled from the school, were sentenced to one month's jail or a fine of HK$100. Seven, including Tsang, went to jail after refusing to pay the fine. Janet Tsang later moved to England where she still lives. In 2005 she published (in Chinese) All Round Tactics To Get Into The Best British Schools.