West Kowloon Cultural District

Cultural district enjoys million-dollar donations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 11:40am

Art donations worth millions of dollars have been made to the West Kowloon Cultural District over the past two days.

The West Kowloon visual culture museum M+ yesterday said that an anonymous Hong Kong philanthropist had donated money for Asian Field, a US$1 million huge sculptural installation made by Turner prize-winning British artist Antony Gormley in 2003.

M+ executive director Lars Nittve said acquisition of the artwork - made up of 210,000 hand-sized clay figures made by 350 villagers from Xiangshan in the northeast of Guangzhou - would have required the approval of the West Kowloon museum committee because of the large amount of money involved, but a donor came along, who has requested anonymity.

"We found it a bit challenging to get approval for that sum of money at this stage," said Nittve.

"I just happened to be talking to a person in Hong Kong, who turned out to be a great friend of the artist and who loved this work. And [the person] said 'perhaps I can help'."

The conversation ended up as a US$1 million cash donation, which was used to acquire the work by Gormley, who recently had his first solo show in Hong Kong at the White Cube gallery.

The donation came the day after Hong Kong-based artist and collector Rosamond Brown made a HK$5 million donation to set up the Brown Family Annual Acquisition Fund, allowing M+ to buy artworks at Art Basel Hong Kong, which opened to the public yesterday. Nittve said Brown's was the first cash donation and the amount would be divided into 10 portions to be used over the next decade.

At Art Basel's VIP day on Wednesday, a jury committee made up of M+ and overseas curators bought five works by four artists, including one Hong Kong artist.

Nittve said the acquisition fund was modelled on Outset in London, a philanthropic organisation dedicated to supporting new art, that gave the Tate Modern a grant to acquire works at the Frieze art fair in London.

On the impact of the delay to the cross-border express railway project on the West Kowloon Cultural District, the arts hub's chief executive Michael Lynch said it was still under assessment and the arts hub would meet with the MTR Corporation and the government.