HK Walls takes on Wong Chuk Hang

Enclosed between a bustling highway and a quiet MTR station resides the Wong Chuk Hang industrial district. Passengers making their way to Ocean Park might just fail to notice Wong Chuk Hang station in their anticipation for thrill and adventure. It was just four months ago when the district was being vetted as the urban scene to watch out for. Alas, the Ocean Park line opened, but the crowds did not come. The neighborhood’s fifteen minutes of fame came to a screeching halt, leaving behind signs of its once believed potential, a grand Starbucks, and a family friendly Pizza Express.

All activity comes to a halt during the weekend in Wong Chuk Hang. Only the occasional roar of an engine from the Lamborghini Service Center interrupts the silence. Cars parked bumper-to-bumper litter the pavements. A broken pipe regurgitates water as pedestrians struggle to leap over puddles.

This weekend however, Hong Kong Walls took it upon themselves to revive the industrial district back from oblivion. They presented the challenge to local and international graffiti artists, who transformed the walls of Wong Chuk Hang into their own art canvas.

Taiwanese artist, Candy Bird’s, bird aviary. Photo: Amrita Mangho.

From factory walls to the bodies of trucks, no surface was left untouched during the weeklong art festival, which began on March 20th. Workshops were held everyday at One Island South for all skill levels. Both budding artists and those looking to brush up on their technique came out in support of the event.

“The Hong Kong art scene is quickly catching on,” said Amanda Lai, who came to Ovolo Southside to view the closing day exhibition and tour the street art. “Most people can’t afford to buy art, but here it is quite unique,” she said in reference to the paintings on sale.

An art enthusiast snaps a picture of the artwork displayed during the exhibition. Photo: Amrita Mangho.

With artwork priced below $1000, the exhibition seemed to attract a number of bargain art buyers. Those in attendance were also encouraged to create their own masterpiece as part of HK Wall’s ‘1000 Drawings’ initiative. The artwork of participants was put up for sale for $80 to raise money for charity.

Back on the streets, graffiti artists were seen finishing up their enormous project with a quick sign off. Wong Tai Fung, a local artist, who was inspired by the “contradictory laws” in Hong Kong, painted an abstract fish on the side of a factory building. He felt “happy” to be part of HK walls’ lineup, because receiving permission from the city’s government to do street art is “very rare”. However, upcoming plans to demolish old infrastructure in the area may be reason behind government support.

Hong Kong artist, Wong Tai Fung’s, impression of greed in the city. Photo: Amrita Mangho.

Thai artist, Jeck, spreads the love (left) and French artist, Zoer, elevates the streets (right). Photo: Amrita Mangho.

The splash of color on the walls of Wong Chuk Hang has already gained some praise. One such admirer is Rachelle Tse, who frequently commutes to the district for work. She said that the atmosphere is “more bright” and “not so sad and angry.”

Others, however, were not too impressed with the new facelift. One passerby said the paintings on the wall looked “out of place” and “messy”.

HK Walls started their mission to bring art to Hong Kong’s bare surfaces in 2014. Last year, their annual festival was held at Sham Shui Po.

UK based duo Sink captures a woman’s vulnerability (left) and Spok’s glaring snake (right). Photo: Amrita Mangho

Writer: Amrita Mangho

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