Three of HK’s best artist residency programs


Unencumbered from the constraints of time and money, residency programmes allow artists to freely create. Ysabelle Cheung finds out what Hong Kong has to offer...

A room of one’s own is a luxury Virginia Woolf argued for the then-small circle of female writers in the early 20th century, but her message could just as well have been directed towards artists of any discipline, or anyone whose practice, by definition, requires research of the creative kind. Indeed, the very first artist-in-residence models started forming in the early 20th century, and today, there are hundreds of such models – no two the same – worldwide.

In Hong Kong, the artist’s residency is an important component of the contemporary art sphere, both in supporting and financing an artists’ body of work and also in cultivating socially relevant interaction between art and community, away from the limitations of a gallery or a museum show. The responsibilities of the residencies vary – some organisations offer living space, some offer exhibitions at the end of the artist’s tenure, while others simply offer free studio space to realise a technically difficult project – but, at the end of the day, the benefits of such programmes go beyond simply the finished product.

Spring Workshop's interior space

“I believe artists gain a lot by sharing their ideas with other artists, designers, inventors, curators and the public, rather than only making work in their own studio,” says Isaac Leung, chairperson of non-profit, multi-disciplinary space and gallery Videotage. Leung, along with his colleagues, run the FUSE residency programme annually, where they invite local and international professionals – in the fields of arts, research, activism and engineering, to name just a few – to focus on media arts (the residencies are between one to six months). Although accommodation space is not provided, a wealth of media resources and a stipend to support the execution of proposed projects is part of the programme. FUSE is unique not only in its specific focus – media arts – but also in its ambition to create an accessible platform for artists and others interested in the field of media arts. “One of the aims of Videotage is to strengthen the bridges between the art world, tech industry and society at large through the promotion of independent creative practice,” says Leung. “I believe art organisations should be at the forefront of society – that’s why we’re interested in bringing people from different paradigms to generate new knowledge.” Most of the time with FUSE residents, the programme culminates in an exhibition or a finished project.

Squint by FUSE resident Keny Wong

Another organisation who presents a residency without accommodation space within their quarters (although they aid their residents in finding spaces) in Hong Kong is Asia Art Archive. AAA, a physical library space, is fluid in its residency structure, allowing the artists, scholars and researchers to use the time and the archive at their will. There is no specific length of stay.

“A lot of residency programmes operate by saying ‘here’s the space, here’s your stuff, do your work’,” says Ingrid Chu, recently appointed as public programmes curator at AAA, and previous artist-in-residence herself at various organisations around the world. “What’s nice [at AAA] is that it offers the chance for residents to engage with [the archive] and maybe they’ll come out having shifted perspectives on their own works.” Talks and workshops are also organised for residents, who already have links to AAA’s practice – the programme is invite only. Past and current residents include art historian Iftikhar Dadi, Chinese artist Song Dong and artist/architect duo MAP Office. “The city is their studio and the archive then becomes the headquarters, the home base,” says Chu.

MAP Office at Asia Art Archive

Para Site and Spring Workshop, on the other hand, provide both studio and accommodation space for their residents. This breeds a different kind of residency structure altogether. “We believe that by providing them accommodation, it is an extension of our hospitality as well as a place where they can work,” says Qinyi Li, curator at Para Site. Their residency living spaces are located at the Artist Home Base in Sheung Wan, a four-storey block of studios specifically for artists-in-residence, and Spring Workshop, a frequent partner. Spring is an accomodation and studio space, and often they don’t often publicise their programmes in a bid to further encourage unstructured, creative output. “We have ‘secret residencies’ where no one even needs to know that the artist/curator/writer is here,” says Mimi Brown, founder of Spring. “Beyond extra time and space, the interactions between residents, visitors and friends over lunch are Spring’s magic. You never know who you will encounter or what conversation you will have.”

Artist Home Base

Spring recently hosted artists Christodoulos Panayiotou and Philip Wiegard, who fully transformed the area and space into a workshop and exhibition space. Previous musician-in-residence Rajesh Mehta utilised the bronze mallets in the bathrooms as inspiration for a composition. In this respect, a residency serves to highlight the processes and possibilities of art and creativity in places not limited to public spheres – galleries, museums, exhibition halls. “Ultimately, it is not just about trying to make an impact on the art world in Hong Kong,” says Brown. “It is about trying to make an impact on the lives of the people of Hong Kong.”

For more information on Spring, visit; Para Site, visit; Asia Art Archive, visit; Videotage, visit


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