Redtory, from cannery factory to art space

Last week I visited Redtory, an Art and Design district in the city of Guangzhou based on the same idea as the 798 Art Factory District in Beijing, or the District M50 in Shanghai.

Art factory district

Redtory was a can “Dace with Black Bean Sauce” factory established in 1956, very well known through out Guangdong Province and one of the largest canneries in Asia at the time. As more you look around you get to feel how the architecture responds mainly to the Soviet Union style buildings. Apparently talking to a chinese architect he told me that China admired and recognized Soviet Union style as the most beautiful and fashionable architecture.

All over Redtory you can find some testimonies of the historical factory life, such as the red bricks constructions, the spacious interiors and in some corners fantastic old factory mechanics.

Going back to the first idea of converting a warehouse into an art space, I got curious about it and checked some facts…Apparently the idea of using old factories for art creation started in the early 60s, when pop artist Andy Wharhol created The Factory, a studio where artists, musicians and celebrities used to hang out or even live there. After some time, it became a fashionable place to meet interesting and sophisticated people. I just get so excited about this early hippie-avant garde artist movements, I am a retro freak, sorry can’t help it!

Anyway, the idea to convert factories in places where artists can “freely” create and produce art has to me mainly three purposes: one, to create a community of people who share the same interests and aims. Two, to gain advantage of  the extrinsic value of an art district and redefine a neighbourhood development into a more lively and exciting place to be and visit. And three, to get a space enough big and spacious where you can fit as many artists as possible.

Some other places, a part from China, where I have found some similarities to Redtory but in a bigger scale and more consolidates art district. South Bank in London an art district that has been reconstructed from old buildings to the biggest creative art and design centre.

I brought back a booklet about Redtory, and I found very right the statement of Alice Wong, chief director of Redtory, she defines Redtory as a distinctive culture place because it was a living history, and I would say that it’s still making history not any more with employers working on an assembly line, but now with artists and creators of art works.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Discovering Wu Guanzhong «

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