NEWS

Come for the food, stay for the art
01-08-2018

Source: travelwirenews

 

Among the popular street art in the central area of Hong Kong, the mural of the old community of Kowloon on narrow Graham Street is the most popular. It was painted by Alex Croft, the local graffiti artist, on the wall of Goods of Desire shop. Opposite the shop, you will find superstars of Hollywood on the wall of Hotel Madera. Just a short distance from the hotel to Elgin Street, there is more street art showing the ambience of an urban pub. Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

The sea of skyscrapers is a familiar scene when you travel to Hong Kong. Numerous choices of delicious Cantonese food, a shopping paradise and well-known theme parks may trigger you to return to the vibrant island in the South China Sea.

 

During my recent trip to Hong Kong, I found that the contemporary art scene provides another reason to lure me back to this popular destination.

 

Hong Kong has numerous art galleries. It also has organised Art Basel — the largest international art fair in Asia held annually during the past decade. Being known as the art hub of Asia, the island does not stop its expansion in the creative world. During the first half of this year, two high-profile art spaces opened. One notable site is Tai Kwun — Centre for Heritage and Arts, while the other is H Queen’s, a private mall for art galleries.

 

Tai Kwun officially opened on May 29. It is the centre of contemporary art for both local and international artists.

 

Located in the heart of the Central district, the centre was renovated from the former central police station compound.

 

Tai Kwun means “big station” in Cantonese. The name refers to the central police station compound, said a centre guide. A Magistrate’s House with jail blocks was first built in the compound in 1841. The site was rapidly expanded to 16 buildings and housed the Central Police Station, the Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison.

 

“Once a closed compound to the public, the centre is today the latest landmark and the largest art space on the island,” said the guide.

 

You can spend a whole day exploring Tai Kwun. The centre for heritage and art has space for every visitor. From the entrance gate, it opens to a big courtyard. You may spot some locals who sit under the shade of the big mango tree to draw a picture of the red brick building. You can stroll around to see the beauty of the heritage buildings as well as the amazing work of the renovations. The centre also has audio guides via its Tai Kwun app. Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

The renovation project started after the compound was shut down in 2006 when government agencies moved to new locations. The Hong Kong Jockey Club worked with the Hong Kong government to outline the conservation plan. The aim was to preserve the historical buildings, which were listed as Declared Monuments in 1995.

 

The renovation project took about a decade to be completed with a total investment of US$3.8 billion (about 16 billion baht), said the guide, adding that two new buildings were built — the Contemporary Building and an auditorium for hosting film screenings and performing arts.

 

The renovation team put in all efforts to return the authenticity of the original designs and colours with the existing materials. They went to many places including England and Scotland to find original blueprints of each building, said the guide.

 

“Based on extensive researches and advice of experts from Hong Kong and overseas, the renovation project shows a new standard for heritage conservation in Hong Kong,” she said.

 

One of the more striking buildings is the postcard-perfect two-storey red brick structure. Built in the Victorian-style with old roof tiles, it is set against modern skyscrapers in the heart of central Hong Kong.

 

The century-old building was the former police headquarters. It houses the “100 Faces Of Tai Kwun” exhibition to show stories of people who worked at the station and locals living near the station compound. It offers QR codes for visitors to learn about the daily work of police officers.

 

Opposite the red brick blocks is the 154-year-old four-storey Bararak Block. It houses an exhibition on the compound’s history, the renovation work, police records, plus policing artefacts, such as old handcuffs and guns.

 

These are some samples of contemporary art on display at the inaugural exhibition “Dismantling The Scaffold”, presented by Hong Kong curator Christina Li. The exhibition shows the everyday lives of Hong Kong people through the history of Tai Kwun and its current role as the permanent cultural institution and heritage site in Hong Kong. Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

Another highlight of Tai Kwun are the old prison cells, a popular spot that offers visitors a glimpse of life behind bars. Here, tourists take turns taking selfies inside the cell or to pose for pictures while holding the bars tightly.

 

“One of the notable prisoners at the Victoria Prison was the late Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh. He escaped prosecution by French authorities in Vietnam and was arrested by British authorities in Hong Kong. He was imprisoned here [during 1931-1933],” said the guide.

 

From the jail site, we walked to the newly built Contemporary Building. Its outstanding architecture was designed by the renowned Swiss-based Herzog & de Meuron company, which designed the Beijing Olympic Stadium.

 

The first exhibition hosted in the building is the “Dismantling The Scaffold”, which marks the transformation from a law enforcement compound to a cultural and heritage site. More than 20 local and international artists joined the exhibition, such as the Xijing Men, who are an international artist team comprised of Chen Shaoxiong from China, Tsuyoshi Ozawa from Japan and Gimhongsok from Korea.

 

Time stood still for me as I explored the various art objects. It’s quite impressive.

 

Visiting H Queen’s opened my eyes through various techniques and forms of contemporary art. Curators of Pace Gallery and Galerie Ora-Ora are friendly and willing to give you a brief tour if you ask. You can visit each gallery to see the art collections without too many people blocking your view. Perhaps you may find some interesting pieces of art to add to your collections. Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

From Tai Kwun, we proceeded to H Queen’s, which opened in March. H stands for headquarters while Queen’s refers to its location on Queen’s Road. The 24-storey building, which looks like a modern office building, houses a number of world-class art galleries like Pace Gallery, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner.

 

We visited the Pace Gallery, which occupied the entire 12th floor of the building. It shows a series of 10 new works of Mao Yan, a neorealist Chinese painter. The “By The Edge” exhibition displays his landscape paintings and “Thomas” series, his longest portrait project that begun in 1999. Before coming to Hong Kong, the work of Mao Yan was shown in the Pace Gallery in Beijing and New York.

 

Galerie Ora-Ora was another stop we made. Located on the 17th floor, it is known as one of the leading galleries in Hong Kong. Focusing on co-exhibiting Chinese and Western contemporary art, it presently is showing the “Amplified” exhibition that features Finnish artist Juri Markkula and Cindy Ng of Macau.

 

Our last stop in the art journey was PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters. Located on Hollywood Road, the seven-storey building was built in 1951 for police officers with families. The aim was to encourage more people to join the department, said the PMQ guide.

 

It has 169 residential units in total with a courtyard and a rooftop space. The property was deserted for almost 10 years after the families moved to a new place around 2000. Later, the building was renovated to be a centre for creativity and design, and renamed PMQ to remind people of the history of the building.

 

Opened in 2014, PMQ has space for outdoor art exhibitions and events in its courtyard, while the ground floor also has a large art hall. The property, which still resembles a housing project, is home to more than 100 outlets run by local designers whose dreams are to be entrepreneurs. Some units are renovated as working spaces, a library and design studios.

 

“Our aim is to develop local creative industries. We help those who have creativity to have an outlet to sell their branded products by offering them a rental fee about 50% cheaper than the average street price,” he said.

 

Those outlets are not big, but packed with products created by youth passion such as Loom Loop founded Polly Ho, a local fashion designer. She integrates organic dyed silk clothes with traditional Chinese crafts. She intends to preserve traditional Chinese culture in her fashion designs. Not far from her shop are outlets for high-quality women’s bags, office utensils and household decorations by Hong Kong designers.

 

If you have more time for art, you may walk along Hollywood Road and nearby streets to explore street art. When you get tired, rest your legs in a fine dining restaurant along Central Ferry. The sunset views are incredibly romantic.

 

When you plan to visit Hong Kong for your business or family trip, spare a day to visit these art and design centres to see another side of Hong Kong.

 

Riding the 60m-high Hong Kong Observation Wheel may give you another city view over the Victoria Harbour. Repainted in red, the Ferris wheel offers a 15-minute ride for HK$20 (85 baht), down from the previous prices at HK$100 (468 baht). The service is available from 11am to 11pm daily. Visit hkow.hk. Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

PMQ is like a local mall of creative products, which you may not find in typical shopping malls or markets in Hong Kong. About half of the shops offer fashion and household products while the rest are in creative design categories such as furniture, jewellery and fashion accessories such as eyeglass frames made from horns of buffaloes and yaks in the Smith and Norbu shop and stylish wristwatches by Eone, which were originally designed for the blind to tell time by touching.

Karnjana Karnjanatawe

 

 

Travel Info

  • Tai Kwun — Centre for Heritage and Arts is open daily from 10am to 11pm. The exhibition rooms are closed at 8pm. There is no entrance fee. Online booking is required at taikwun.hk.
  • H Queen’s houses art galleries, art hall for hosting art events and exhibitions, auction houses and retail shops. There is no entrance fee. Visit hqueens.com.hk.
  • PMQ is open daily from 7am to 11pm. Visit pmq.org.hk.
  • For more information, visit the website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board at discoveryhongkong.com or download “My Hong Kong Guide” app at discoverhongkong.com/eng/myhkguide.
 
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20-02-2018
Hong Kong designers showed off their latest collections at London Fashion...more
19-02-2018
But lending sartorial support to the movement that is fighting inequality and...more
11-02-2018
Industry elites and style influencers from the U.S. and around the world ...more
09-02-2018
在香港貿發局安排下,3個香港時裝品牌於9日紐約時裝周展示...more
08-02-2018
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council is launching major efforts ...more
08-02-2018
雲集全球創意精英的DesignInspire 2017,剛於去年12月結束...more
07-02-2018
由香港設計中心主辦的「DFA香港青年設計才俊獎」,至今已踏入第12屆...more
10-01-2018
深水埗區以售賣布匹及手工設計原材料聞名,變相亦不少時裝設計師的...more
17-12-2017
【明報專訊】年輕設計師要創立自己品牌不容易,去年施政報告提出...more
17-12-2017
【星島日報報道】做設計不一定識做生意,政府為培育本地設計界新星...more
01-12-2017
成立於2016年由香港設計中心主辦的FASHION ASIA HONG KONG...more
23-11-2017
Fashion Asia 時裝會議自去年成功舉行,今年將於12月5日至12日載譽歸來...more
22-11-2017
最近,香港的時裝及珠寶設計上品牌參加了東京的時裝周,同時香港...more

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