Founder, Art Statements & South Island Cultural District
In June 2012, Dominique Perregaux decided to move his gallery, Art Statements, from Central to Wong Chuk Hang. “I was looking for a much larger space and to also get back a certain pioneering energy,” he says. “Central was becoming overcrowded with new galleries. Wong Chuk Hang was the perfect place to find a sense of an art community that could develop.”
By the end of 2012, some 20 new galleries had opened in the vicinity. Perregaux was riding a wave. He launched South Island Cultural District (SICD), an association of the galleries in Wong Chuk Hang and nearby Aberdeen, to help foster a sense of artistic identity in the area. The SICD publishes the South Island Art Guide, detailing its galleries as well as local shops, cafés, bars and other facilities, and organises the South Island Cultural District open days, which o er guided gallery and studio tours.
Perregaux says art lovers should ensure they make a stop at Rossi & Rossi, which shows both contemporary Asian and modern Italian artists. “Visitors can discover interesting regional artists and build up their knowledge of international art.”
Perregaux also regularly visits Angry Lane, which makes leather jackets and motorcycle accessories. “I stop by to chat with the owners, [brothers] Ben and G [Barras], and hear them talking about the leather clothes and custom motorbikes they just made,” he says. “Their space, mixing machines and craft leather, fits perfectly with the Wong Chuk Hang spirit.”
Director Asia, Art Basel
Specialising in Asian art, Adeline Ooi has been Art Basel’s Asia director since 2014 and oversees the Hong Kong fair’s seventh edition this month at Wan Chai’s Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. “Hong Kong is the other element to Art Basel that makes it so attractive to locals and visitors alike,” Ooi says.
When she gets some downtime, she likes exploring the unexpected locations of Wong Chuk Hang’s art spaces and restaurants, many of them hidden away inside old industrial buildings.
Ooi is also a fan of café and bar Africa Coffee & Tea, as well as the Ovolo Southside hotel’s rooftop bar, Above. “It’s a mainstay in Wong Chuk Hang – one of those places I remember from day one, meeting with artist friends for a coffee or drink,” she says.
She also suggests Studio 9, a beautiful furniture showroom, cultural salon and event space. “I like the freedom they have to come up with whatever they want,” she says. “Imagination is your limit!”
Co-founder, sensory ZERO
This sprawling artisanal coffee shop with large windows and a minimalist aesthetic opened in 2014. “I still remember the MTR station was an empty construction site, and Heung Yip Road [where the café is] was only visited by strong wind and dust!” Hui recalls. Along with all-day dining, beer and cocktails, sensory ZERO is known for intriguing coffee concoctions: “I’d recommend our signature drink, the ginger sparkling Americano,” Hui says. “It’s made with our homemade caramelised ginger syrup, sparkling water and speciality espresso.”
The café is also where you’ll find sensory FIGHT CLUB – a martial arts dojo – and it shares space with a lifestyle store, One South Island. “Though we serve craft beers at sensory ZERO, I visit Young Master Brewery nearby to pick up draught beer once in a while,” Hui tells us. “They do guided tours for visitors.”
One of Hui’s favourite destinations is Dine Art, an art gallery and wine cellar that offers private dining experiences. “They have a collection of fine art, from Australian painter Fred Williams to the Chinese artist Zao Wou-Ki,” he says.
For everyday dining, Hui likes the Nam Long Shan Cooked Food Market. “It’s the place I hung out at with my business partner Dixon [Ip] every day during the building of sensory ZERO,” he says. “I recommend the very local Hong Kong-style casual meals offered there, such as a corn and rice dish, or Thai food [from Thai Co Co Nut] on the ground floor.”
Founder, Spring Workshop
Spring Workshop, a non-profit art space and residency programme that ran from 2011 until a planned hiatus in 2018, changed the cultural landscape of Wong Chuk Hang. Through commissioning artworks, organising events and providing accommodation for artists, Spring fostered the area’s latent artistic potential.
“Wong Chuk Hang was a perfect location for Spring Workshop because it was a corner of Hong Kong that seemed half-forgotten by time with its old market and temple and vast, ageing industrial spaces, and yet somehow simultaneously ahead of its time with creatives moving in who were drawn by the cheaper rents,” Brown says. This year, Spring Workshop was reborn as The Hive Spring, a co-working space and event terrace focusing on creative businesses and startups. Many of Spring’s artworks are still on show.
When it comes to local galleries, Brown regularly visits Rossi & Rossi, Pékin Fine Arts, Blindspot, Floating Projects and de Sarthe Gallery.
Brown also enjoys eating at Mum Veggie Cafe, where you’ll find food prepared in the shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian) style. She also recommends Casa Capriz for vintage and retro furniture; Ellermann Flower Boutique for lush flower arrangements; Mirth and get.give studio for quirky gifts; and Asia Pacific Adventure for outdoor gear.
“Beyond the MTR and the office buildings, enormous new apartment buildings are planned in the near future, which will further notch up the rents and general busyness,” Brown concludes. “Now is the time to cherish the area.”
Singapore Airlines flies to Hong Kong seven times daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine