In the island town of Peng Chau, the entrance to an artistic secret garden lies, unassuming, between two shop buildings. Leather Factory, so named for formerly being the location of two leather factories, is a cosy world-unto-itself primarily consisting of art formed from recyclable material. From the narrow passageway leading you into the space, graffiti lines the walls. Colourful paper cups are arranged on the ceiling in circles imitating the sun. At the end of the passageway is a series of photo collages. Titled Symbiotic, this piece by Nicolas Lemal explores human perception through intimate and tasteful shots of unidentified peoples.
Once past the entrance, marvellous curiosities are aplenty. To the left sits a chair fit for a giant. Painted a royal blue and towering over visitors, this grand seat is definitely BFG approved. To the right is the self-declared Concrete Jungle. Creatively utilising the empty spray paint cans that must have coloured the walls, bicycle parts, children’s toys and so on, Concrete Jungle forces viewers to reconsider how objects take up space and how their meanings are transformed when presented in ways atypical of their function.
Behind Concrete Jungle sits a darling little garden. Bursting with carefully arranged fauna and one side providing a cool respite from the glaring sun, the garden is an ideal hangout spot. A sinewy statue of found metal objects desperately reaches out to the sky, in likeness of the Tower of Babbel. Glowing rays light up the structure, drawing the eye to its myriad of unique lines and curves.
Across from the garden is a stunning work that speaks to the desire for success that is inherent in all individuals. Starting from the ground level, a link of cycling vehicles – all coloured in the same burgundy hue – make the brave climb up the wall and towards the heavens.
With plans to renovate part of the space into a B&B, Leather Factory is a unique spot to visit on a trip to Hong Kong. Its one-of-a-kind displays are the perfect way to get out of your head, excusing your mind from self-doubt and worry and diving into the wonder and intrigue of contemporary art and how it can affect and interact with the environment. Visiting Leather Factory also kept me well-grounded. The second instalment in Kevin Kwan’s addictive trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend had me dreaming of Gastby-esque fortunes and feeling irrationally sorry for my current place in life. Beautifully expressed and demonstrating that money isn’t everything, Kwan still made the internal struggles of the rich sound like suffering in the best sense.