In the last few decades, London’s former buzzing artist quarters like Camden, Shoreditch and Soho have out-priced struggling newcomer artists. So much so, that some are considering a move across the continents where rent is cheaper and competition is softer.
Hong Kong and Singapore have in the last few years started buzzing with artistic creativity, but it’s also started a debate. Which one should an artist choose?
There are three main factors considered by most artists including accommodation, competition and inspiration. At least that’s according to visual artists Mona Choo, Claire Deniau and Wei Leng Tay, who discuss this in a recent interview with South China Morning Post. All three are formerly Hong-Kong-based and now living in Singapore.
Singapore is generally cheaper for accommodation than Hong Kong, which is part of its appeal for Deniau.
Quoted in South China Morning Post, she said: “Having a studio makes such a difference to my practice. I am a lot more productive than when I worked from home in Hong Kong. I came back from studying at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002 and wanted to show my work. I couldn’t afford the minimum S$2,000 that venues were charging for exhibitions so I decided to start my own space. My first was a 400 sq. ft unit on the fourth floor of a walk-up that cost S$750 a month.”
But it’s not just accommodation that affects the artists’ choice of city. Choo also claims that there is more opportunity to showcase her work in Singapore.
In her interview with South China Morning Post, she said: “My work is not very commercial, and I haven’t really been in a place long enough to establish myself. But Vera Ong, the gallery owner, took a chance on me and took my work to Singapore Art Stage [an art fair] in 2015 while I was living in Hong Kong. That was a great confidence booster.”