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Art Basel 2015

HKwalls to give Sheung Wan and Stanley Market a street art makeover

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2015, 1:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2015, 1:59pm

Stanley Market may be a bustling tourist magnet during the day, but its alleyways are usually dim and sleepy as night falls. Annual street art festival HKwalls hopes to change all that and is inviting local and international artists to transform the grey store shutters into a vibrant gallery, giving people a different reason to visit the market.

The not-for-profit festival started with a negligible budget, relying largely on material donations from its partners. Now in its second year, it has expanded from a one-week event in Sheung Wan and Central to one spread over two weekends with the addition of the Southside location – largely due to a partnership with luxury fashion brand agnès b.  

The founders say they wanted to create something that was about the artwork – not the money – and allow people free access. “We got a bit frustrated with everything surrounding Art HK and Art Basel being money driven, not to mention lacking a street art presence,” says Jason Dembski, one of the founders and artistic director of HKwalls. “And having seen many successful street art festivals around the world, particularly Pow Wow in Hawaii and Wynward Walls, which coincides with Art Basel Miami, we decided to start something here.”

HKwalls paints on exterior walls, so getting permission has often been a challenge. “The idea to bring HKwalls to Stanley Market came from Hughie Doherty the owner of Print House. Without Hughie rallying for HKwalls in Stanley Market, it wouldn’t be possible for us to be there this year,” says Dembski.

While Hong Kong’s street art scene is relatively limited, Dembski describes it as “consistent and layered”, adding that the city’s international status sees overseas artists passing through. “You have a number of street artists and graffiti writers who have been active since long before my time in Hong Kong, then you have a number of people who try their hand each year but only last a few months. 

“I’m particularly excited to see those who weren’t able to join us last year,” he adds. “Guys like Devil and Dreams who are fixtures in the local scene, plus Rukkit from Thailand, Xeva from South Korea, and Pantone from Spain, are flying in specifically to paint at HKwalls.”

You can watch various artists, local and international, painting live from about 2pm on March 14 and March 15 (Saturday and Sunday) in Sheung Wan;  March 20 from 7pm and March 21 from 5pm in Stanley Market. A pop-up print gallery at 9 Tai On Terrace from March 14 to 15 (11am to 7pm) in Sheung Wan will showcase some limited edition prints. All proceeds go directly to the artists. For updates: Facebook.com/hongkongwalls