Eaton HK's Director of Culture Chantal Wong's Guide To Art Galleries In Kowloon
“I want to prove to people that there can be a company that truly stands for good,” says Chantal Wong—and she is doing exactly that as director of culture and workshops at Eaton HK, a buzzing hotel that opened in 2018 on the border of the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei neighbourhoods.
Wong’s title is a rarity for someone working in the hospitality industry, but Eaton HK is an unusual hotel—as much a community space as a place for tourists to lay their heads. Some of Hong Kong’s best musicians and DJs have played at the bar, Terrible Baby, which has also become a hotspot for the LGBTQ community, while the in-house gallery, Tomorrow Maybe, consistently exhibits thought-provoking works by local artists. Eaton HK also hosts talks and workshops on environmentalism, gender equality and other social issues.
“I think most people see corporations as profit-driven, so we try to hold on to a sense of integrity—to put other things before profit,” says Wong. “I think it’s important to have a space like this in Hong Kong.” For Wong, the opportunity to work for a purpose-driven company sounded almost too good to be true when Katherine Lo, the founder of Eaton HK, reached out in 2017. At the time Wong was running her own nonprofit art space, Things That Can Happen, in Sham Shui Po, and previously worked for Asia Art Archive.
At Tomorrow Maybe, she often spotlights young local artists and those working in video or other experimental media—art that sometimes struggles to find a home in the city’s more commercial galleries. This summer the gallery is exhibiting animations by comic artist Kong Kee; in September, Wong is opening a solo show by 21-year-old photographer Lean Lui. “Her work is really beautiful, very sensitive,” says Wong.
Wong also plans programmes across multiple media in the hotel’s 50-seat cinema, dance studio and multipurpose event spaces, while the hotel’s director of music and radio, James Acey, oversees its radio station and live music projects.
Wong is using many of these platforms at the Women’s Festival set to take place in October. “This is the third year we’re hosting it,” says Wong. “This year it’s about a journey of healing; we look at grief and what different forms of grief there are. With everything that has happened in the past year, a lot of us don’t even realise how much trauma we’re dealing with. So we’ll have therapists, counsellors, personal healing programmes and fun things like making food together.” Afterwards, there will be some relief from the pain with, of all things, a Sissy Ball with the vogue dancer Ken Ken Milan. “There’s lots of serious stuff, but it ends in celebration—we want everyone to have a great time.”
Chantal Wong’s Gallery Guide
Eaton HK’s director of culture reveals where to get your art fix in Kowloon.
1/6 Tomorrow Maybe
“I’m not just recommending Tomorrow Maybe because I work at Eaton HK, but because it’s one of the few alternative spaces in Hong Kong. We also usually focus on new media and video art and feature many young artists.”
Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei
“Openground is a café but they have an exhibition space upstairs. They host some photography exhibitions and they do really cool projects connected to Sham Shui Po.”
Openground, 198 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po
See also: On Empty Theatre: A New Film By 30 Hong Kong Theatre Artists During Covid-19
3/6 Parallel Space
“Parallel Space is a gallery in Sham Shui Po that shows underground artists from Hong Kong, animation artists, Instagram photography—they work on so many different projects and show a real variety of work.”
Parallel Space, 202 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po
“I love Videotage. They’ve been documenting video and new media art since the Nineties. I think they were the first alternative arts space and organisation in Hong Kong. And they’re not really known as a queer-driven organisation, but last year and this year we at Eaton HK worked with them closely on Pride month programming.”
Videotage, Unit 13, Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan
5/6 Africa Center Hong Kong
“The Africa Center has a small gallery, but more generally I think it is a really interesting initiative that is looking at redefining and reframing blackness in Hong Kong.”
Africa Center, 12/F Vincent Commercial Centre, 21 Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
See also: The Tatler Guide To Art Galleries In Wong Chuk Hang & Aberdeen
6/6 Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre
“This building is filled with exhibition spaces and artist studios,” says Wong. Among them are Hong Kong Open Printshop, a nonprofit, artist-run printshop and exhibition space; Lumenvisum, an exhibition space dedicated to photography; and the GOD HK Street Culture Gallery, a space filled with antique Hong Kong furniture and objects collected by GOD founder Douglas Young. The latter is only open by appointment.
Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC), 30 Pak Tin Street, Shek Kip Mei
See also: Michael Wong And Mizuki Nishiyama Launch An Art Exhibition To Raise Funds For Operation Smile
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