Lai See

Jockey Club to rethink plans for police station art operator

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 12:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 12:57am

The Jockey Club CPS (JCCPS), the body overseeing the Central police station revitalisation project, is having to rethink how the contemporary art element of the scheme will be operated.

This is because Lai See understands that after interviewing, earlier this month, Adrian Cheng Chi-kong and Calvin Hui, the co-founders of the not-for-profit organisation Arts in Heritage Research (AHR), the JCCPS has decided not to appoint AHR as operator of the scheme. This leaves the Jockey Club in limbo.

Adrian Cheng is the grandson of New World Development boss Cheng Yu-tung and a director of the company. Hui is a well-known figure in Asian art circles and a co-director of Fine Art Asia.

It appears that the selection committee was not overly impressed with the AHR presentation. This was followed by rigorous discussions, some of which focused on whether it was a good thing to have a property developer involved in a contemporary art project.

Li Ka-shing's 1881 Heritage development, located on the site of the former Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, is considered by many to be an object lesson in how not to do heritage. It includes an upmarket hotel surrounded by high-end luxury shopping outlets.

The Jockey Club does not want the Central police station project to be swamped by commercial considerations like the 1881 Heritage site. Rather, it wants the focus mainly to be on heritage, art and leisure features.

Although the club likes the fit between contemporary art and heritage, it does not want to be in a position whereby it is seen condoning or censoring politically sensitive works of art that may go on display at the site. It, therefore, decided to have a separate operator and asked for proposals for the role.

Only two other groups, in addition to AHR, applied, but they were ruled out on a technicality, leaving Cheng's group as favourite for the role.

Cheng founded the K11 Art Foundation and has strong links with London's Tate Gallery and the Royal Society. While his art credentials may be impressive, some have found his taste questionable. One example can be found at Cheng's K11 shopping mall - a mosaic made of toast, Sweet Delight Mona Lisa, by New Zealand artist Maurice Bennett.

One option is to appoint a director of the heritage and contemporary art element and have him report to the director of CPS project, Euan Upston. The Jockey Club is expected to announce its revised plans shortly.


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