On Fridays, the brewery offers free tastings. At one such tasting, the bar is hosting a duo from the floor below who run a tattoo studio, office workers from one of the newer commercial buildings in the area, and a gaggle of Korean beer geeks. They have come on a pilgrimage especially to try Yardley Brothers’ Lamma Island IPA, Quit Your Job! and Hong Kong Bastard beers, as well as the single-batch special editions crafted each month by brewmaster Luke Yardley.
Down the street, nestled among the neighbourhood's offices and industrial buildings, you'll find ‘rare coffee’, which serves delicious brews paired with sandwiches and different flavours of bagels. Coffee connoisseurs will want to pick up some beans to take home.
“Everybody closes their doors and works on their own. It’s an industrial building and people are doing their own business,” says Kum Chi Keung, an artist known for his signature birdcage-inspired art, who, along with big names in the Chinese contemporary art scene such as Samson Young and Fang Lijun, has had a studio in the area for many years. “Maybe nobody is trying to co-ordinate or to connect artists so everybody is just doing their own thing,” says Keung.
Frederique Decombe, a French visual and performance artist who launched a gallery in the area five years ago, which ran for 18 months before becoming her studio space, agrees. “The gallery was a short and intense experience but too short to create community. We had high expectations about trying to make people work together, but it seemed to be more difficult than we had thought originally,” she says, adding optimistically: “It’s changing for sure, slowly but surely.”
Woodwork and metalworking artist Stanley Lee, who along with his partner Sheung Chau offers workshops where students can learn to make tableware, pens and jewellery, has also had a space in the area for five years. With an attached terrace he has openedand also held rooftop farming classes.
“Within the last two years, this area has changed a lot,” says Lee. “When we started, there were just a few units offering classes, now there are lots, with many other studios moving to Kwai Chung.” At any time, visitors to Kwai Chung can usually find ceramic-making classes, art-jamming experiences and drawing groups.
New artists, drawn by the relatively affordable rents and improving infrastructure, are also seeing a community that is becoming more open. Designer and artist Arnaud Le Marteur Rêveur has been based in Kwai Hing for just over a year. “I really love the area. I have also met quite a lot of people — a few artists, a photographer and various entrepreneurs, even a beer brewer,” he says.
Commerce is helping. An increase in office workers has seen a rise in the standard and range of food and beverage options, which is creating more places for people to meet and connect.
As well as rare coffee,, set on the lower ground floor of an industrial building, caters coffee, tea and sweet treats to office workers and studio dwellers alike.
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