When making travel plans, where you go isn’t the only important factor – when you go has a part to play as well. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the weather, when people you know in the country might be available…or it could be that you want to coincide our visit with a particular event that is happening in the place at the time.
Now, I’ll be honest, it very often doesn’t work out that way for me, and I tend to book the visit first, and see what happens to be going on there later (a symptom of my job, which restricts my travelling time to the school holidays). Fortunately for me, on my recent trip to Hong Kong I had a friend in country with his ear to the ground. And I was lucky enough to witness the HK Walls project that was going on in the Sham Shui Po district of the city, where I happened to be staying.
The HK Walls was a two week project that ran in March 2016, and featured renowned graffiti artists from both Hong Kong and around the world taking ownership of a wall space in the Sham Shui Po district so as to bring street art to the neighbourhood; think of it as democratising art instead of keeping it hermetically sealed away in exclusive museums.
Hunting down the individual artwork made for a fun, treasure hunt-esque experience, with the two pieces we saw that the artists were actually working on there and then being particular highlights. The best one of all – by the renowned Spanish artist Okuda – was a colourful, geometric based, pop surrealist piece entitled ‘Rainbow Thief’ that covered the whole side of a building and was simply stunning.
It was fantastic to see a suburb that – both geographically and spiritually – feels like the beating heart of Hong Kong be the arena for such an innovative and inclusive art project. As with all street art, it’s bringing art to the people in a creative and fun way, thus destroying the notion that art is only for a perceived elite. That it appeared here is further proof that Hong Kong remains distinct from the comparatively repressed way of life that is the norm on the mainland.