Hong Kong Rooftops: Shek Kip Mei

Eddie Lui looks out from atop the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, leaning on a cane, contemplating the scene before him. He waves his hand out towards the old housing estates of Shek Kip Mei, their pale yellow paint dulled by the grey skies and damp air.

“This is a space where you can really communicate with the vicinity,” he says. “You can see the evolution of public housing and the surrounding area. It shows you how we came into being.”

It has been a year and a half since the abandoned factory building on Pak Tin Street was converted into the JCCAC, a collection of artists’ studios, art galleries, cafés and performance spaces. Lui, the centre’s executive director, led the transformation. Though its location has been criticized as out-of-the-way by some members of the Central-focused art crowd, the JCCAC is beginning to forge a relationship with its neighbours in Shek Kip Mei. In the afternoon, old men read newspapers in the centre’s atrium and teenagers head up to the roof after school.

The roof is central to Lui’s plans for the JCCAC. He has covered part of it in a layer of hardy plants that help insulate the building. Two stages have been built on the roof, used for theatrical performances and rehersals. The centre’s artists have held a barbecue party on the roof. There are even plans to use it for film screenings. “We could show experimental movies or something like that,” says Lui, pointing to an open space that he says could fit about 70 people.

More than just a gathering space, though, Lui calls the roof “surveillance space,” a place to reflect on the JCCAC’s place in the city. He points to a nearby hill. “That’s Signal Hill, used by pilots to guide them into the old airport.” Crossing the roof, he gestures down to a football pitch. “That’s where the Hungry Ghost Festival is held every August. There’s a big bamboo stage that’s built. Last year there was a typhoon right when they were setting up and it was all blown away.”

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Tuesday April 20 2010at 10:04 pm , filed under Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Society and Culture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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