Sweet Water, Bitter Earth 唐水黃土 Chinese in Hong Kong, in Taiwan, and overseas often struggle with their Chinese identity, many have an idealised image of what the motherland is like, whether it’s from stories retold by our relatives, from a romanticised view of a movie. The reality is often very different, especially given the accelerated speed at which China is changing. It is often this failure to meet our expectations and the vast, often unexpected difference in cultures that alienate us from feeling comfortable and secure with our roots. While shooting for my previous project - The Queen, The Chairman and I, a multi-layered narrative story book dealing with the history of Hong Kong of the last 100 years and the Asian Diaspora through the lives of my family. I only briefly visited my paternal grandfather’s ancestral homes. During my time there, there was an overwhelming feeling of both affiliation and a total alienation towards the 2 cities of my roots. For the most parts, my paternal ancestral line has strong affiliation with the sea, as fisherman, as deckhands, as traders, marine tragedies also wiped out entire arms of the family. My maternal ancestral line on the other hand, has strong affiliation with the land, as landlords, as builders. However, while trying to photograph these two cities, I realised how little connection I have with either of these places, emotionally or physically. I realised that my own vision of china was also shaped by TV shows of my childhood and more recently, photographic projects made in China. I went further into China in search of my own pre-conceived images of China. Armed with an 80s Chinese camera, I traveled to all corners of the vast country without following any specific pattern, trying to find my own connection with my supposed motherland. I found a strange sense of belonging and emotional tide to the landscapes, however, as I got closer to the people, I felt disconnected and alienated. I realised that it is modern day China and its people that I don’t understand and my dream of redemption and return to a lost homeland is ultimately, a failure. The images are intertwined with the negatives from my paternal side, which I submerged in the water along the route that my ancestors travelled, allowing the sea to corrode the dye ; and the negative from my maternal side, I placed under my shoes and walked in their footsteps, abrading and imprinting them with local earth. The natural exposure and the imposed decay are a metaphor for the little connection I have with these places.