Richmond artist defied threats to paint Hong Kong protestor

After receiving threats, both in person and online, people might have understood if Emily Lau backed down and retreated into anonymity.

But not only did the Richmond-based, pro-Hong Kong blogger stand her ground, she picked up her paintbrush and put one of her many talents to canvas.

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Channeling her emotions – first shock, then anger – from being targeted, novice artist Lau created in the space of a few hours a stark, yet dramatic, portrait of a protestor in Hong Kong.

In the last few weeks, her painting has been getting a lot of attention in the local arts scene and was one of the many pieces up for auction at a recent Richmond Art Gallery Association fundraiser.

“It took me just three or four hours. But when you have the passion and the anger, you know what you need to paint; it flows from the heart,” said Lau, a single mom, who works full time in administration at a local appliance firm.

“I was at the first Lennon Wall at Broadway station in Vancouver in July. That was the first time I’d witnessed any trouble or threats (from pro-China supporters). I was really upset, because we were just raising our voice for freedom to be able to talk.

“I got a lot of threats for just being there. People recognized me from the blog. It was really scary. I got the threats on Facebook, also. I don’t think they were planning to do anything, they just wanted me to shut up.”

Unfortunately for her abusers, Lau took the threats to heart and created a canvas which is now a talking point in Richmond’s art community.

“People loved it and were asking lots of questions, which is why I went ahead with it,” added self-taught Lau, who only started taking painting seriously a couple of years ago and now has a side business, called Emily Art Gallery.

Asked if she’s still concerned about her work and profile being out there in public, Lau said, “A little. But still feel I need to do it. We are in Canada, after all.

“Everyone should have their right to express themselves.”

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