Best. Art. Supplies. Shop. Ever!
Karen and I often say how we want to explore China more as it is right on our doorstep and there are so many incredible things to go and see, however as it always takes up at least one entire day and spare time isn't something we have too much of, we've not done an exploration day in quite some time. This week we decided we were going to break out of the studio so we took Wednesday off and headed over the border to Shenzen to visit Dafen Oil Painting Village.
Artists painting outdoors on every street corner.
All of the studios opening up in the morning, canvases propped on the pavements.
Karen had actually been here before with some friends, however this was totally new for me and it completely blew my little mind. Dafen Village is famous for it's artists studios which spill out of every building on to the streets. There are around 800 painters here! Most are reproduction studios, meticulously copying famous works, but there are also artists producing original pieces, mixed in with shops stacked high with beautiful papers or crammed to bursting with paint brushes of every possible size. Every street seemed to have groups of easels loitering on the corner or art work hung on exterior walls blending in with the flower beds.
Easels, easels everywhere!
Framed art work hanging on an exterior wall behind the plants - what happens when it rains?!
It was completely different to the way I usually experience China (crushing crowds, manically busy) Dafen was quiet (which could of been because we went midday and mid-week. Karen says that in the evening dozens of carts appear selling hot street food which we didn't see this time), very green, and had some of the most interesting buildings and architectural designs I've seen in a while.
Pit stop for a plate of spicy noodles
(Side note - our eco-resolution this year was to carry our own metal straws and stop using disposable plastic straws. Very handy in China where drinking direct from the can may not always be a good idea)
Lots of the studios featured a uniquely Chinese take on modern design - lots of glass and light, but built using re-purposed or reclaimed materials, which was incredibly inspiring.
Reclaimed wood, re-purposed wire rigging, loooots of exposed brick!
In 'Muma's Cafe' a gorgeous little steam-punk inspired coffee shop
We didn't buy this time, but you can take a photograph of anything you like to Dafen and have it copied in any style by an artist there. I think it would make such a unique present for friends or a special gift for family that they would keep forever, and it is really affordable to do. There are plenty of framing shops there as well, so if you wanted to get your new masterpiece framed and shipped to your home address it is all possible on one street!
To reach Dafen Oil Painting Village we took a bus from Wan Chai Bus Terminal (HKD50 per person) and crossed the border at Huanggang Border Point, which took about 1 hour (including immigration - you can get a visa at this Border Point if you carry a British Passport or go straight through if you have an APEC card) We then took a local taxi for around 30 minutes (circa RMB50) to reach Dafen. It was very easy to do, and a highly recommended day trip from Hong Kong!