Mother’s Cupboard Chinese Medicine Workshop – Mr. Lau

As part of the 淑芳你好嘛 (Suk-Fong Nay Ho Mah) / Suk-Fong, How Are You? exhibition, an offsite workshop on Chinese herbs and medicines took place in one of Chinatown’s local medicine shops, Nam Bak Enterprises Ltd. 

The intention of this workshop was to specifically deconstruct and identify two of Suk-Fong’s jars. Mr. Lau is an expert on traditional Chinese medicine. Wong provided Mr. Lau with two jars. Prior to the workshop, the jars were opened, the contents strained, dried, and identified. The Nalley Jar was deer antler-based, and the Aylmer Jar was identified as snake-based. Each jar contained over a dozen ingredients that Mr. Lau was able to identify. Both of these elixirs are for internal use, and often added to soups.

At the workshop, he talked about the individual ingredients and their medicinal properties, giving participants a lively insight into the creative process of blending the yin and yang principles of Chinese medicines. Mr. Lau concluded the formal part of the workshop by packaging a prescription of dried herbs and medicines for the common cold. Participants freely shared personal family stories and knowledge, and took advantage of translators to shop.

Mr. Lau only spoke Chinese. Paul Wong and Mark Lee (Onion Language Centre) provided simultaneous interpretation in English, Cantonese, and Toisanese. This innovative and popular workshop was attended by primarily Chinese-Canadian participants. As far as we know, this was the first bilingual workshop to take place in a Chinese medicine shop in Chinatown.

Collaboration, Public Art, Workshop