Alumnus returns to city with major photographic exhibition


Kurt Tong assembles the exhibition with Victoria Gallery and Museum Curator, Moira Lindsay

A University of Liverpool alumnus who graduated to pursue a career in nursing, is returning to the city with a photographic exhibition exploring his roots.

Kurt Tong became a professional photographer in 2003, after his healthcare work took him across the world and encouraged his interest in the medium.

Now, ten years later and with the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award and Jerwood Photography Award achieved, among others, Kurt is bringing a selection of images exploring his family background in China, Hong Kong  and England, to the Victoria Gallery and Museum.


Kurt’s father was born on Robinson Road in Hong Kong, and lived in a block of flats built by his grandfather. This is also where Kurt grew up.

He said: “The reason why I chose nursing was because I wanted a degree that could take me around the world very quickly. I was quite lucky after graduating to find work with an NGO out in India, and I just started taking photographs.”

Kurt was born in Hong Kong in 1977 and, prompted by the recent birth of his two daughters, decided to start exploring his background and collecting images of family members to give his UK born children an insight into their heritage. His new photographs bring together the old family pictures and objects as a storybook for his daughters.


Abandoned Tong family altar in Tong’s Bay, China. Kurt was the first of several generations of his family to return

This book soon developed into an exhibition, The Queen, The Chairman and I, full of fascinating images of the places that feature in Kurt’s family history, from imperial China to the Hong Kong of today, via an English BT phonebox. In total, 28 photographs will be shown, alongside family objects and a 1949 8mm colour family film.

Kurt said: “It’s all about the stories behind the images and very little about the composition. I never really knew either of my grandfathers so doing this has allowed me to get to know them a lot more intimately. When putting it all together, I didn’t look at them as a photographer.”


Kurt’s grandfather, Bunnan, as a small boy with his mother

The show will also feature the installation of a Chinese Tea House, within the Victoria Gallery and Museum, aimed at encouraging visitors to share their family stories.

The exhibition forms part of Liverpool Light Night, as well as Liverpool International Photography Festival’s LOOK/13, built this year around the theme ‘Who do you think you are?’

The Queen, The Chairman and I runs at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, Brownlow Hill from Saturday May 18 to Saturday August 24. For more, please visit


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