Cows, sheep, and pigs are gone and now there are paintings and performances, but few people come. It is far away from the bus lines and nowhere near the trains and subway stations of the MTR. It is out of the way, but a few artists are trying to make the Cattle Depot Art Village a place to practice and create.
The Cattle Depot Artist opened as a slaughterhouse in 1908 and could hold 120 head of cattle, 200 lamb, and 400 pigs. It closed in 1999, and the operations moved to the new slaughterhouse in Sheung Shui. The Cattle Depot is the only one built before the first world war that is still standing and is a historical site.
The red-bricked buildings with Chinese tiled roofs are unique in Hong Kong. The buildings still connect visitors with its colonial past. There are still has troughs for where the feed and water was but has transformed into an artist village. Painters have space to paint what they feel. Drama groups have space to rehearse and perform their shows though for small crowds. There are not enough sprinklers or other safety measures to hold a festival.
There are 20 units available to rent from the government for $3.5HKD per square foot. Apartment prices average $12,100 per scare foot according to Midland Realty. The rent is cheap, but the leases renewed every three months. The artists work in a historical building making renovations on the building impossible. The space doesn’t have the fire and safety measures to host a large crowd. Only some of the space is open to the public. The surrounding area is out of the way and industrial. It is hard to get to so coming for a show is difficult.
Across from the Cattle Depot are the 13 Streets. It is an area built in the 1950’s and 60s where all buildings are under ten stories because of the old airport. This area may redeveloped and connected to the Cattle Depot to make the whole area more viable than it is now. The only worry with redevelopment is removing tenants.
The Cattle Depot is a nice place to take pictures but not sure for what else. Some of the workshops are open to the public, but most are not. It provides much-needed space for artists and conserves a part of Hong Kong’s past.