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Eat Your Art Out: Chai Wan Mei Festival Brings Hong Kong the Cooler Side of the Art Scene


May 13th 2014 By Kim Hobson

May is Hong Kong’s unofficial art month, with events across the city for gallery goers of all kinds. But if you’re looking for something with a little more energy and novelty, be sure to catch Chai Wan Mei as it makes its third annual appearance on May 16th & 17th. Not sure what it’s about? Here are our top picks of the programme to give you a taste.

'How and Nosm, The Day After' by Vaford Gates, New York, USA. Houston Bowery Wall, 2012

Hong Kong art lovers will no doubt be gearing up for the prestigious Art Basel and the middle-market Asia Contemporary Art Show, both kicking off in the city later this week. Only those in the know will however have heard about Chai Wan, the hub of the dynamic grassroots arts scene and its accompanying annual festival Chai Wan Mei.

The area is home to non-other than prolific Hong Kong photographer Michael Wolf and the super cool AO Photobook Centre & Vertical Art Space, and is known for quirkier offerings than the run-of-the-mill Hong Kong galleries.

Based in the trendy Industrial Centre and its surroundings, this year’s festival will see more than 60 designers, artists and creatives serve up everything from interactive performances to curator talks and hands on workshops. With so much artistic muscle flexing occurring, we thought we’d put together our top four picks of the programme so you don’t miss out on the best bits.

Puerta del Sol


Localiiz’s favourite photography studio HDP Image Maker will be launching an exciting new project at this year’s Chai Wan Mei. Puerta del Sol is set to be Hong Kong’s coolest creative co-working centre when it opens properly later this year.

If you want a sneak peek of the space however, call in (Reality Tower, Unit 8D, 4 Sun on Street) during Chai Wan Mei and catch two awesome exhibitions while you’re at it. Crayons will showcase a technique discovered by HDP that transforms photos into ‘paintings’, while the photography series Myanmar Dreams will deliver exactly what it promises.

The Boy with the Magic Brush


Born to an actor mother, a director father and growing up in the backstage of a theatre, it’s no wonder Shanghai artist Maleonn’s work is bursting with colourful imagination. His solo exhibition Boy with the Magic Brush will allow you to enter a world full of fables and fantasy via photographed scenes that incorporate nostalgia, black humour, romance and tragedy. His exhibition will be on display at the AO Vertical Art Space (13/F Asia One Tower, 8 Fung Yip Street) throughout the festival.

The highlight of Maleonn’s work however comes in the form of Studio Mobile, a project that saw the artist travel to 35 cities with a truck full of costumes, backdrops and props, directing and taking photographs of ordinary people in setups from his imagination. Visitors to the festival will have the same chance, but bookings are restricted to five people per day, so get in there quick! Contact clarechan@asiaone.com.hk for pricing and reservation.

Guerrilla Art


Rogue art installations by rising local and international artists will be taking over a number of the spaces during Chai Wan Mei. Once looked upon as rebels of the art world, the guerrilla population has evolved from its early spray painting days and now creates sophisticated and captivating pieces that share ideas and make bold statements.

Raw, thought provoking and totally in your face, the festival’s guerrilla art promises to be weird, wonderful and engaging. Events will be held from 2pm-10pm on Friday and 11am-6pm on Saturday.

The Village


The Designer Village is an installation-meets-market place, popping up on the Saturday of the festival. The perfect location for an art adventure, it houses numerous secret treasures that lie waiting to be discovered.

More than 20 participating creatives, spanning art, fashion and food, will allow you access to their artistic process and hip local community. Recuperate in the food corner, watch live graffiti or shop for one-of-a-kind pieces.


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