The home of Simon Birch, the Hong Kong-based, UK-born artist of Armenian descent, offers some answers has taken on an entirely new lease of life since Simon assumed the role of custodian. When he first acquired the erstwhile multistorey carpark, he recalls, Grass was growing out of the floor, it had no windows or power, no water, the floors were awful… it was just a big, open concrete space.”
Transforming each of the four storeys – each measuring 1,500 sqft – was no mean feat. Although no longer in use, a car turntable on the ground floor is a nod to the building’s former existence, which could not be further from its current iteration as a gallery and event space, open to the public and available to hire. Polished metal doors retract to reveal one of Simon’s striking large-scale paintings. Devoid of any contextual setting, an abstract image of a woman with her head in her hands immediately commands attention, as though it was created specifically for the location.
The outside world is kept at bay courtesy of discreet but transparent blinds, while the polished concrete floor and clean walls allow the artworks on display to speak for themselves. Befitting Simon’s vision to conceive the space as a creative hub where the public can engage with art in a way not often experienced in Hong Kong, the galleries on the ground floor and second floor act as a meeting place for the city’s creative community, hosting nine shows by contemporary artists across different genres and media each year, as well as various talks and events.
A vehicle lift synchronously connects the edifice’s past and its present.
As soon as the doors of the vehicle lift part ways, the sense of space impresses and natural light illuminates the large-scale canvases on display.
Gym rings and a Ducati bike exist in harmony with the generous art-filled space.
A traditional gallery set up occupies the second level, and is half-way through preparations for a forthcoming exhibition.
The kitchen nestles beneath a staircase, which leads up to the bedroom.
Simon adds the finishing touches to a pencil drawing.
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