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Oi! opens today to provide new art space for community (with photos)

     Oi!, a new art space located at 12 Oil Street in North Point, was officially opened today (May 21). Under the management of the Art Promotion Office (APO) of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), this venue will be open to the public from tomorrow (May 22), providing a space for the community to experience art and a platform for art practitioners to experiment with their ideas of artistic creation.

     Officiating at today's opening ceremony were the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-shing; Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; Chairman of the Art Museum Advisory Panel of LCSD, Mr Vincent Lo; participating artists of the "Embark! Beyond the Horizon" exhibition, Mr Cédric Maridet, Mr Yuan Gong and Mr Tang Kwok-hin; and the Chief Curator of the APO, Dr Lesley Lau.

     Converted from a grade II historic building, Oi! was originally home to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Built in 1908, this century-old complex is a rare remaining example in Hong Kong of the Arts and Crafts design style. It consists of a main block and two ancillary buildings, drawing the onlooker's attention with its red brick walls and coarse stucco façade as well as eye-catching chimneys and plumbing, making it a notable landmark at the junction of Oil Street and Electric Road in North Point. Oi! is located next to the site of the now demolished Government Supplies Department building, which housed the former Oil Street Artist Village. After the department was relocated, the vacant building attracted local artists and organisations as short-term tenants, who used it for their studios and as a venue for events, giving birth to Hong Kong's first organically evolved art community.

     Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Tsang said that LCSD has converted this grade II historic building into a base for promoting community arts so as to support the development of local arts and culture. Oi!'s Chinese name is related to its address at 12 Oil Street but also signifies a starting point from which budding artists can realise their dreams, whereas its English name, Oi!, conveys a message for people to unlock their creative potential and enrich Hong Kong's cultural life.

     Mr Tsang also took the opportunity to thank local arts practitioners, as well as members of the Art Museum Advisory Panel and the Museum Expert Advisers of the LCSD, for their invaluable input to the development of the new art space. In addition, the MTR Corporation generously donated the old railway sleepers which have been reused for paving the paths outside the main entrance and galleries of the art space.

     Oi! occupies a total of 2,140 square meters of land with two exhibition galleries of approximately 190 and 92 sq m respectively. It also has a lawn of about 300 sq m with flourishing trees, offering a green oasis among the dense urban buildings. The lawn will be used for displaying outdoor works to demonstrate the fusion of art and environment.

     With a vision of inspiring communities through co-creative experiences that connect people to art, Oi! will collaborate with various organisations and artists in organising diversified programmes and activities. It will be a place for the community to fuel its creativity and experiment freely with contemporary art and culture, and to extend its artistic horizons, transforming everyday life through art.

     "Embark! Beyond the Horizon", the first exhibition of Oi! will run from tomorrow to August 18. Using the various forms of water as themes to echo its importance as the only remaining building of the original pre-reclamation 1930s North Point coastline, four artists comprising Cédric Maridet, Tang Kwok-hin and Tsang Kin-wah from Hong Kong and Yuan Gong from Mainland China have created a variety of artworks to demonstrate Oi!'s infinite possibilities.

     The works on display include "Together" by Yuan Gong, who uses mist and fog to create a spectacular space in which the audience can appreciate their independent status, while at the same time being aware of one another's presence. Cédric Maridet created "The Mechanics of Shadows: Water Days" by collecting the sounds of the sea and waves around Hong Kong and projecting them as a means to question our relationship with sound. Tang Kwok-hin created his work, "Before Rain After", by using utensils collected from the streets and shops around the art space to catch rainwater. The collection of rainwater and process of boiling it until it vaporises were recorded by Tang on video, showing the return the water to the atmosphere and symbolising our contradictory worship of nature. "The Prelude of The Seven Bowls", created by Tsang Kin-wah, is a multi-channel video and sound installation that uses footage of the 2011 Japan tsunami to demonstrate the power of nature and enable the audience to see beyond the disaster to a better future.

     The exhibition is also one of the programmes of "Vibrant Hong Kong", part of the "Hong Kong: Our Home" Campaign. Admission is free. This exhibition will be followed by "Living Art Projects at Oi!", which begins with the theme of "Green Art" using upcycled materials to create works of art and add value and significance to previously discarded objects. In addition, "Ignite! Hong Kong Art Portfolio Collection" is a new online platform for participants to share their portfolios with curators, who can then use this channel to connect with the artists for another series of exhibitions. "Splash! Garden Blooms" is a project that invites talented individuals and landscape artists to create works for Oi!'s lawn area. "Connectivity - Art In Progress" welcomes local artists or art organisations to present their ideas and concepts, and encourages them to elaborate on their creations at Oi!.

     Oi! is open from 10am to 8pm from Tuesdays to Sundays and on public holidays, and from 2pm to 8pm on Mondays. It closes at 5pm on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year Eve, and is closed on the first two days of Chinese New Year. Admission is free.

     For more details of Oi! and its programmes, please visit the Art Promotion Office website:

Ends/Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:14


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