Kurt's first major project "People's Park" brought him instant recognition winning in 2008 two major awards; the Lens Culture/Rhubarb-Rhubarb Photo Book Award and the coveted Jerwood Photography Prize. Inspired by a nostalgic reflection upon family snapshots and his own childhood memories in Hong Kong, "People's Park" is a poetic and wistful exploration of the now deserted Communist era public spaces built during Mao Tse Tung's The Great Leap Forward.
That same year it was also voted the most popular essay by readers of Foto8.
Trained in the art of story telling, Kurt has been drawn to the narrative of others, in particular the underprivileged and oppressed minorities. His series "Where Love Resides", which documented the mistreatment of disabled children at an institution in southern India, won the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award in 2005.
For his series Farewell in Labrador Kurt Tong spent nearly three months exploring the island's long coastline and fishing communities, producing a visual story that with a poetic sensibility conjures images of isolation and loneliness. His photograph of the abandoned Christmas Tree, was selected for the 152nd Royal Photographic Society's International Print Exhibition in 2009. Along side "People's Park", "Farewell in Labrador" was part of Kurt's debut UK show at the Lighthouse Gallery, Wolverhampton in 2010.
For his more recent projects, Kurt has looked to his own story, drawing on his Chinese heritage and familial relationships for inspiration. "In Case it Rains in Heaven", a stylised set of still lives, shot in a studio setting, is a catalogue of chinese paper made objects burnt as offerings for the dead. A motley collection of such things as false teeth, fast cars and umbrellas this project has been widely acclaimed, as well as published in The Guardian Weekend Magazine and exhibited at Photofusion, London; Compton Verney Museum, Warwickshire; and Kemistry Gallery, London. An exhibition is also planned in Hong Kong in 2011.
"Memories Dreams; Interrupted" explores the concept of memories, in particular those of his two young daughters. Shot in Kew Gardens, a favourite destination for family visits, Kurt plays with how memory is always degraded with time. By manipulating the physical nature of the photograph he has managed to produce a set of images that visually reflect the partial recall of our memories. In a process of distressing and almost destroying the large format sheet film by x-raying, heating and freezing it, Kurt then produces multiple scans of the damaged film, and then reassembles the resulting scans in Photoshop. This is, for Kurt, an analogy with what we understand memory itself to be, something that is constantly revised and altered by revisiting it.
Exhibited along side "In Case it Rains" at Photofusion, "Memories, Dreams; Interrupted" will have its debut solo show in New York.
Included among Kurt's manay awards are the 2010 International Discovery of the Year, Fotofest; Magenta Flash Forward UK winner, 2010 and the Troika Editions/FORMAT Exposure Award, 2010 which includes an exhibition of his project "22 Steps from the Sea" during Photomonth London 2010 at The Front Room Gallery, London.
Kurt has also exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2009; Crane Kalman Gallery, Brighton; Les Rencontres d'Arles, 2010; Singapore International Photography Festival and the Jen Beckman Gallery, New York.
Kurt currently lives and works in Hong Kong and London.