From Police Station to Art CentreWritten by Tiffany T
What once was the Central Police Station has now turned into a beacon for both heritage and the arts. Full of history and charm, visiting this new location is sure to be a memorable experience.
Located in the heart of Central on Hong Kong Island, Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts is one of the most significant revitalisation projects in Hong Kong. Led by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in partnership with the Hong Kong SAR Government, it brings more than a dozen historical buildings to life. Costing a whopping HKD 3.8 billion, Tai Kwun is sure to take Hong Kong’s art and culture scene to the next level, so be sure to check out a few of their exhibitions!
Now, the restored Central Police Station compound is a creative hub where anyone can access it. Tai Kwun operates on a not-for-profit model, where it strives to showcase the best in film, photography, music, performance, design and heritage, not only from Hong Kong but also the rest of the world. But it wasn’t always meant to be used this way. The oldest structure at the compound was built in 1864, and as such holds high historical value. A reminder of when Hong Kong used to be a British Colony, Tai Kwun, Cantonese for ‘big station’, is one of Hong Kong’s last physical reminders of its colonial heritage. Eventually, the former Central Police Station, the Central Magistracy and the Victoria Prison were listed as Declared Monuments in 1995. Only in 2007 was there a plan to fund the revitalisation project of said buildings. Initially, to be completed in 2014, multiple delays ensued the project would be finished four years behind schedule. As of now, Tai Kwun is open and ready to shine, especially with its contemporary art exhibitions aspiring to offer the best experience and cultivate knowledge of the history in the community. Below are some of our picks of the exhibitions running, places to check out in your own free time. This is no doubt a great place to hang out, mingle and get a taste of local culture!
100 Faces of Tai Kwun
Tai Kwun’s inaugural exhibition immerses visitors in 100 different stories which are collected from 100 ‘kaifongs’ (local neighbours) and friends in the past two years. Exploring the history of the Central Police Station, it brings together people from all walks of life who have somehow had their lives touched by the place. From ex-officers, ex-offenders, shop owners, journalists and architects, each of their stories represent various facets of Tai Kwun’s long history, which in turn makes it one of a kind and irreplaceable. Moreover, the exhibition venue has been transformed into a mini-Central with everything that entails, to encourage visitors to venture out into the neighbourhood, thus creating their own unique and personal story. This is truly a fantastic way to learn more about the inner workings and intricate relationships of Hong Kong’s local community.
Location: Duplex Studio, Block 01
Time: 11am – 8pm
Date: 29 May – 2 Sep 2018
Dismantling the Scaffold:
Another inaugural exhibition, curator Christina Li brings together works from both local and international artists. Graduating from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in Fine Arts and Comparative Literature, Christina is a curator at Spring Workshop. Past projects she has curated include A Collective Present (2017), Days Push Off Into Nights (2015) and many more. For this exhibition, it aims to examine and question the established conventions and norms of everyday life, which is represented by its name. The ‘scaffold’ being the main motif, usually refers to a temporary support structure whilst constructing a building, but can also refer to a platform where criminals are punished. Ultimately, Dismantling the Scaffold uses these two definitions to emphasise the site’s history as well as its future as a permanent heritage site. Artworks featured thus raise questions about diverse issues like social participation, commodification, urban development, collaboration and many more. By doing so, the exhibition hopes to offer another lens into the social conditions that form the basis of our experiences.
Location: Tai Kwun Contemporary, JC Contemporary
Time: 11am -7pm
Date: 9 Jun – 19 Aug 2018
Aside from exhibits, several prominent restaurants are opening at Tai Kwun too. Ranging from light refreshments to fine dining, there’s a little bit for everyone. Be sure to check out some of the more popular ones below!
The latest restaurant from French Creations, which also operates other branches such as Pastis and Metropolitain, this cafe was named after renowned French poet and playwright Paul Claudel. Featuring stylish interiors inspired by Parisian Cafes in the 1920s and 30s, this is great for guests who long for a more classic dining experience. With its cosy atmosphere and open-air terrace, this is the ideal place to sit back, relax and enjoy life. Definitely a rare treat in a concrete jungle like Hong Kong!
Location: Shop 1, G08, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Time: 11am – Midnight
Madame Fu – Grand Cafe Chinois:
Christian Rhomberg of the late Kee Club’s is back in business with Madame Fu. Credited as one of the pioneers of the Lan Kwai Fong scene, his new restaurant is sure to wow the taste buds. Boasting 8,000 square feet, the site includes a restaurant with lounges, bars, as well as private dining. Occupying the top floor of the former Barracks Block, it accentuates Hong Kong’s colonial past with a Parisian spin. Mainly serving Cantonese dishes including dim sum, Madame Fu offers Western desserts and afternoon teas as well. Merging contemporary taste in food with sophisticated service, you will surely not be disappointed.
Location: Madame Fu, Shop 3, 3/F, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong.
Tel: 2114 2118