HONG KONGISH港人·港語

As Art Basel comes to Hong Kong, CATHY ADAMS seeks out the city’s grassroots artists sprouting in a dusty corner of Kowloon趁著巴塞爾藝術展在香港舉行之際, Cathy Adams前往九龍一個舊區內尋找平民藝術家

Discovery - - CONTENTS 目錄 - PHOTOGRAPHY MIKE PICKLES

CATHY ADAMS finds low art and bad feng shui at Cattle Depot Artist Village Cathy Adams在牛棚藝術村內尋找平民藝術與欠佳的風水

EACH OF THE 13 streets in Kowloon’s To Kwa Wan district includes the Chinese character of an animal in its name. There is Lung To (Dragon) Street, Fung Yi (Phoenix) Street and Ying Yeung (Eagle) Street.

Opposite these pink, yellow, orange and blue low-rise buildings (we’re next to the old Kai Tak Airport – flats couldn’t be built higher) is a low-slung, red-brick courtyard dedicated to a rather more humble animal: the cow.

It’s the Cattle Depot Artist Village, which houses 12 art collectives producing work that ranges from the boldly experimental to the plain odd.

The compound started life in 1908 as the Ma Tau Kok Animal Quarantine Depot slaughterhouse, which supplied beef to the wider reaches of Kowloon, but was barely tolerated by the Cantonese and South Asians living in the neighbouring colourful walk-ups. (Leo from Videotage in Unit 13 tells me: ‘ The feng shui is not good.’)

In 1999, the slaughterhouse was closed and the government began hunting for new tenants. It wasn’t the easiest sell.

Over in North Point, the Oil Street Arts Village was limping to an end. The artists needed somewhere to go: and just a 10-minute, HK$7.5 ferry ride across to Kowloon City was an empty abattoir. By 2001, a handful of them had moved in.

Constructing heritage ‘art villages’ has become the organic alternative to the air-conditioned world of the big-time art fairs (like this month’s Art Central and Art Basel Hong Kong). Beijing has 798 Art Zone, London has Trinity Buoy Wharf, while Shenzhen has super-trendy OCT Loft.

The Cattle Depot Artist Village is nowhere near the scale of Central’s consumer-friendly PMQ, or even the Oil Street Arts Village’s successor Oi!, housed in the former Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Rather, Cattle Depot’s courtyard is deserted and rather sweet. The only sign that it houses fringe artists is a shabby collection of cartoons, graffiti and photos propped against the wall.

Walk inside one of these Grade II-listed buildings, and it’s a different story.

Start with Videotage, which has been going since 1986. It exhibits both experimental video art and also archives Hong Kong’s new-media work. In January, Videotage launched the One World Exposition, linking young artists from mainland China and Hong Kong in an exhibition called #you #me #ourselfies.

Next door at Unit 14, 1a Space also focuses on contemporary visual art, spanning video and graffiti, as well as hosting ad-hoc talks and performances.

At Unit 7 is On & On Theatre Workshop, which puts on innovative theatre productions. You can also find On & On across at Unit 12 – an empty rentable space ripe for performances.

Unit 10 is the home of the Frog King (real name Kwok Mang-ho). It’s where his studio is, but the septuagenarian only pops by once a week. He’s obsessed with the flotsam of local life: outside are pot plants, an oversized shell, glass baubles and a lifesize ceramic sci-fi monster.

The heritage of the slaughterhouse has not been lost. There are shackles on the floors of the studios, green frames on the windows and the beams are all original. Plus, everything is at ground level – not

typical for anything, let alone art, in Hong Kong. It’s easy for anybody wandering around To Kwa Wan to wander in.

There’s a neighbourly feeling shared between the tenants. There were some stray cats that lived here a few years ago – and the units all pitched in to look after them. ( Talking of cats: at Wong Chunwing’s Aladdin’s cave of a studio at Unit 1, there are six in total.)

Cattle Depot won’t ever be PMQ, with a fancy acronym and slick design shops selling framed illustrations of Victoria Harbour. It’s a simple artist village (‘a sincere Hong Kong neighbourhood’, says Leo). And it should be better known. Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan

九龍土瓜灣13街是一個歷史悠久的街區,由13條街道組成,街名以多種中國傳統徵象 吉祥的動物為名,例如龍圖街、鳳儀街揚、鷹街等。

由於這些街近道鄰 舊日的啟德機因場,此13街一帶都是低矮的樓房。在這一幢一幢外牆髹成粉紅、黃、橙及淡藍色的唐樓對面,有一個由多磚座紅 平房圍繞而成的庭院。這個地方也與動物有關,不過不及13街的街名裡那些動物那麼顯赫,而是謙卑的牛。

這裡就是牛棚藝術村,裡面容納了12個不同藝團的 術 體,創作從實風格 大膽 驗到標奇立等異不 。

這個建築群於1908年啟,用原是馬頭角畜牲 檢疫屠站 房,經這個屠屠房 宰的牛肉,會運到九龍各售處出 。不過住在屠房附近的居民,不管是華人還是南亞人,對於家居附近有這樣一個設施,亦只能無奈地忍受。Leo是錄像藝術體團 錄映太奇的成員,團位體 於牛棚藝術村13號單位,他告訴我說「: 這裡的風水不佳。」

屠房於1999年關閉,政府開始尋找新的租戶。不過這並非件一 易事。

後來,位港於 島北角的油街藝術村快將被當局收回,村內的藝術家需要另覓創作空間而。 土瓜灣這座空置的屠房,需只 從北角乘搭一程十分鐘渡的 海小輪到九龍城碼頭即, 可抵達,而且船費為港僅 7.5 元於。 是有藝部分 術家於2001年將工作室遷到這座舊屠房裡。

將舊建築活化並建設成「藝術村,」已經成行了舉 盛況空前的五星級藝術展(例如本舉的月 行 Art Central及巴塞爾藝術展香港)展會 以外的另一個選擇。北京有藝798 術區,倫敦有Trinity Buoy Wharf碼術頭藝 區, 而深圳則有非常時的髦 OCT-LOFT華僑創意文化園。

牛棚藝術村雖被列為二級歷史建築,其規模卻遠遠不及位於中環、對消費者極具吸引力的PMQ元創方,甚至連油繼 街藝術村之後出現、位於北角香港皇家遊艇會會所舊址的油街實現,亦有所不及。可是人跡杳然的牛棚藝術村自有它的味道。放眼所見,除了牆上有些殘舊的漫畫、塗鴉和照片之外,實在看不出這個地方裡面進駐了多位非主流藝術家。

不過當你逐一走進藝術村內的單位參觀,見就會 到一個截然不同的世界。

不就如 從位於13號的錄映太奇開始好了。這個藝術組織於1986年成立,放驗映實錄像藝術作品,並將本地新媒體作品存檔。今年1月,錄映太奇推出與多個術藝 機構合作的大型總體項目「平行世界」,舉辦名為《#you #me #ourselfies》覽的展 ,展出中國內香地與 港年輕藝術家的作品。

隔壁14號是1a空間同, 樣專注於當代視覺藝術,範圍則括錄像以至塗,鴉 非常廣泛。1a空間亦會不定期辦舉 講座及演等出活動。

位於7號的是前進進戲劇工作坊,這個劇團以創意劇場作品作主打;對面的12號也是屬於它的,那是無個空 一物的空間,可供租借作演出用途。

10號單位是外號「蛙王」的郭孟浩的工作室,不過這位年屆七旬的藝術家一星期只會在這裡出現一次。歡他喜 收集各種反本映地活生 的日碎雜物,並將之陳列在工作室外面 ,盆括 栽物植 、超巨貝型 殼玻、 璃的製廉價首飾,以及一座真實大小的科幻怪獸陶瓷像等。

昔日屠歷房的 史痕跡在這裡依然可見,工作室的地上,保留了鐵環與鉤鏈,髹上綠色的框窗 與屋頂上的橫樑也都是建築原有的部分。,此外 這裡的建築全都只有一層,在香可港 說是非常罕見。在土瓜灣一帶閒逛,很容易就會信進步走 去。

牛棚藝術內一村 有 種街坊鄰里之間的互之助 情。數年前有多隻流浪貓走來這裡棲身,村內單各 位紛紛幫忙照存。說起貓,位於1號單位是「榮哥」王振榮的工作室,裡面除了塞滿他的作品之外,還有六隻貓。

牛棚藝術村遠永 不會成為PMQ元創方,不會有個夾著英文縮寫的花哨名稱,也不會有出售維港風插景 畫、華而不實的時尚設計店。這裡只是一條樸實無華的術藝 村,正如Leo所說,是「一個很有人情味的香港社區」。這樣的一個地方,應該有更多人認識。

牛棚藝術 九 土瓜灣馬頭角道63號

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