Gallery: Inside the private art studios of Fo Tan
The development of art studios in Fo Tan mirrors the SoHo of 1970s New York and the Dashanzi Art District in late 1990s Beijing. The decline of Hong Kong's manufacturing sector led to a surplus of vacant factory space in industrial areas, such as Fo Tan. When the SARS crisis hit in 2003, rents tumbled. In moved space-hungry artists.
The high concentration of art studios in Fo Tan makes it easier for collectors and the public to find out what's going on with local artists. It's a mutually beneficial relationship.
"It used to be within five years after graduation, you'd have your first show. But for us [based in Fo Tan], in five years, we've already gotten lots of exposure," says Lee Kit, one of Fo Tan's artists.
"The downside is that it has become trendy to have a studio, like in Beijing, where people think they need to have studios even if they're conceptual artists and don't have any use for them."
The ongoing Fotanian event this year -- where artists in the Fo Tan neighborhood annually open up their studios for public viewing -- marks a decade since the first artists moved to the neighborhood.
Here is a look inside the art studios in Fo Tan and what Fotanian means to the artists.
Lee Kit is no. 8 on The Hong Kong Hot List: 20 people to watch. Lee is not participating in this year's Fotanian.
Lui Chun Kwong at Yiliu Painting Factory: "Fotanian is just a name for the show. You can't define the people here. We are all different."
Chinese University professor and established painter Lui Chun Kwong was part of the first batch of artists to move into Fo Tan nearly a decade ago. He sits here with his paintings "Landscape No. 0210" (left) and "Landscape No. 04001."
Chow Chun Fai at Studio 1023: "Fotanian follows no rules. It's a natural process. People come and go. It renews itself."
Chow is a painter known for his stills from classic Hong Kong films, complete with English and Chinese subtitles.
Lee Kit: "Fotanian is organic. It's not going to be a glamorous exhibit, but more like a treasure hunt."
Installation artist Lee Kit is not participating in the Fotanian this year. He sits here next to his work "Hand-painted cloth used as tablecloth (work in process), 2009-2010
Acrylic on fabric, photo document."
Homan Ho at G16: "Fotanian is coming together to be able to dream together, even if we still need that day job."
Sculpture and furniture designer Homan Ho is sitting in front of the bookshelf he made for G16, the unofficial café of this year's Fotanian event.
(Left to right) Ho Sin-tung, Jantzen Tse, Wu Wai-fun, Elise Lai, and Ko Sin-tung are art graduates who share the MiSiMiDiYa studio. They only moved to Fo Tan a few months ago.
Mixed media artist Jantzen Tse says: "Fotanian doesn't need rewards. We just want to share our work."
Stephen Wong at Studio 0520: "Fotanians are outsiders. We come to Fotan and we become insiders."
Born in 1986, Wong paints landscapes inspired by video games.
Ng Ka Chun (right) at 91 Degree: "Fotanians are connected, but only very loosely, and that's good."
Ng shares studio 91 Degree with Thickest Choi.
Installation artist Samuel Adam Swope (left) and painter Sarah Lai share the studio "just like honey."
Swope: "People think Fotanian is a festival. I think it's more like a carnival. You know, more casual. For all walks of life to have fun."
Lai: "Fotanian is like your private space within a family."