She may be best known as founder of travelling art festival Micro Galleries, but Kat Roma Greer’s creativity isn’t limited to any one role, or even discipline. “I’m a performance artist and a vocalist, and I work in the public art and street art intervention space,” says the Illawarra native, who now divides her time between Sydney and Hong Kong.
Micro Galleries uses art to create positive change in communities in need, bringing artists from around the world to a chosen community to host workshops, residencies, think tanks and other examples of what Greer calls “micro injections”. “We’re trying to bring art right to the doorstep for people who deserve it the most,” she says, noting each year’s program culminates in a “micro art festival” designed to pass the torch to the community itself. “They can be the creators of their own space once we leave.”
Transforming artistically under-serviced communities into creative bounties, Micro Galleries has set up shop everywhere from Bali and Austria to Kathmandu and Cape Town, as well as several remote regions of Australia and neglected sections of Hong Kong. The next Micro Galleries Live festival will happen in the Philippines later this year, and in September the initiative is hosting a “Global Day of Creative Action” on the same day as the UN Climate Summit in the name of “Disrupting Climate Disruption”.
Greer’s experience bringing spontaneous art to unlikely spaces makes her the ideal tour guide through Hong Kong’s under-the-radar art spaces. In a city famous for its population density, non-commercial art is integrated into the public sphere. “It really bleeds into the everyday life of people here,” she says. “Street art is a nice way to explore parts of town you normally wouldn’t go to.”
When it comes to street art in Hong Kong, Greer says it’s been quite controlled by the government. But that’s changing, with a lot of work springing up organically in the back lanes of Sheung Wan in the island’s north-west. “There’s a heap of amazing street art there,” she says. “There are really famous artists, [plus] young guys just graffing on Sheung Wan Lane. Once a space is established, other artists start to riff off it, but there’s a culture where you don’t go over someone else’s work.” Greer recommends starting on Shing Hing Street and then exploring the lanes running off it – including vibrant Tank Lane.
Shing Hing Street, Sheung Wan
Also in the island’s north-west, Fo Tan is a historically industrial area whose former warehouse spaces now entice many creative types to set up studios there. “It created a cluster of artists with a huge, diverse range of practices, which is super unusual for Hong Kong,” says Greer. “It’s on a very large scale: these go across several multistorey warehouse buildings.” The resulting “Fotanian community” runs a fortnight-long open studio, where you can browse non-commercial art in DIY spaces nestled in with old-school shops and newer cafes. “Just like the back lanes of Sheng Wan, you’re absorbing Hong Kong in a really unique way,” she says.
Fo Tan, Sha Tin
Best known for the annual street-art festival it runs every March with funding from sneaker company Vans, HKWalls help reinvent the streets of Hong Kong with large-scale murals and other quite visible projects. “It’s a very traditional street-art-festival program, but for Hong Kong it’s actually quite unusual,” Greer says, citing the non-profit’s transformative effect on parts of Sham Shui Po and Wong Chuk Hang. “So again you get that beautiful juxtaposition of mechanics and old barber shops next to cafes and sleek art galleries. If you have three days in Hong Kong, you could literally go see all the different mural artwork. It’s a great way to take you to a diverse series of areas here.”
100 ft. PARK
For some cities, an 100-square-foot art space might not be so remarkable, but DIY gem 100 ft. PARK stands out in Hong Hong’s pricey art world. “It’s a tiny, non-commercial art space that’s open and accessible,” says Greer. “It’s very welcoming. A lot of the galleries here are on Hollywood Road on the main area in Central – it’s quite intimidating for many people to engage with.” So this provides some much-needed counterprogramming, and it engages directly with the local community. “Creatively,” she says, “I think the most interesting things happening here are these grassroots artists’ collectives.”
1/F, 229 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po
Central Ferry Piers
Throngs of locals and residents flock to the piers every day for transport, but the Central Ferry Piers has more recently become the perfect place to catch street performers after an established busker strip in Mong Kok was shut down. “It only emerged over the last six to 12 months,” Greer says of the newly formed community. She recommends getting fish and chips from the Star Ferry Pier – and maybe a beer – before settling in to absorb the sights and sounds. “Eat on the steps down there and listen to these incredible, unique musicians,” she says. “You get the best view in the city of this incredible skyline across the water, with all the lights on the weekend.”
Ferry Wharf, Central
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