Fah Thai Magazine Sep-Oct 2018

fahthaimag

OVERTURES

ARTS & CULTURAL MATTERS

FROM POLICE HEADQUARTERS

TO COMMUNITY SPACE

In the spirit of conversion, Hong Kong

now sports a new art complex that

widens the scope of what we mean

by exhibition.

For years, locals knew of its history

as the Police Headquarters in the Mid-

Levels section in Hong Kong’s Central

district. With a nice, leisurely walk or ride

along the escalators to get there, Tai Kwun

Centre for Heritage and Arts is an ideal

rendezvous spot for art, dining and

community gathering in what was once

a police station, courthouse and prison.

Purposeful

Rebirth

There’s no stopping the practice of turning things

abandoned or discarded to be of benefit again. Newfound

ways now mean a prison yard in Hong Kong becomes

an inspiring community space for higher art while

entrepreneurs in the capital of Myanmar are using their

artistic visions to try to fix a major problem.

Words N Wright Photos Bigs Vatcharasith

Hong Kong is home to many of

the world’s leading commercial galleries

but has always lacked a museumstandard

not-for-profit art space.

Tai Kwun, meaning “big station” in

Chinese, fills that gap. Impressive in

scale, three of the buildings are declared

monuments that bore witness to rich

history; surprising facts include Ho Chi

Minh’s imprisonment there in the 1930s

and its use as a Japanese army base

during World War II.

With a rebirth since it was

decommissioned in 2006, the inviting

complex of open spaces and courtyards

of 16 heritage buildings and two new

buildings by Swiss architect Herzog de

Meuron blend seamlessly across the

Hong Kong skyline. The designers have

inserted two modern buildings in the

complex; a gallery for contemporary

art and a 200-seat auditorium for the

performing arts, film screenings and

events. Both are clad in monumental

perforated aluminium bricks that mimic

the façades of the buildings. JC Cube,

the Laundry Steps, the Prison Yard

and the Parade Ground will become

performance spaces for theatre, music,

dance and film, with a wide range of

programming. Prison cells with their

original numbers and locks can be

toured with video projections depicting

stories of time in incarceration, including

attempted jailbreaks.

Visitors can walk through more than

1,500 square metres of exhibition space

that hosts six to eight exhibitions every

year. Catch two inaugural exhibitions:

a group show titled Dismantling the

Scaffold, curated by Christina Li of Spring

Workshop, along with an exhibition

of new work by Hong Kong artist

Wing Po So. In a bid to connect

visitors to the community’s past, an

exhibition titled “100 Faces of Tai

Kwun” gives an intriguing glimpse

into the history, the compound and

its neighbourhood, complete with

interactive spaces and setup.

Beyond art and culture, Tai Kwun

offers dining options that range from

a casual drink to cocktails to sit down

meals including Café Claudel bistro

and Old Bailey. Stay for as long as you

can – there’s a light and sound show

late evening and a perfect way to end

the night if you happen to be in

the neighbourhood.

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