From Cans to Culture – Redtory Art and Design Factory, Guangzhou
In 2009, the abandoned workshops of Redtory, which once formed the biggest canning factory in China, re-opened as a cultural centre with more than 40 establishments taking over the decaying red brick buildings. Fashion houses, galleries and restaurants replace the Dace and Black Bean Sauce production marking a most significant Guangzhou’s shift from traditional to creative industry.
Redtory in relation to Chinese Contemporary Art Scene.
Not exclusive to Guangzhou, industrial creative districts are a distinguishing feature of the contemporary art scene in China. Shanghai has the infamous, graffiti lined M50 in the old Chunning Club textile mills, Beijing offers high class artwork in 798 Art Zone located in a decommissioned military factory. Almost an instillation themselves, the buildings overcome the threat of destruction through ‘urban renewal’. These aesthetically stimulating structures and buildings are now an integral element of art tourism in China, with Redtory a major contender. The 1950’s soviet brick and equipment line the alleyways for form rather than function, updated with posters or paint as a contemporary refurbishment that explicitly acknowledges Chinese history.
Labelled ‘can street’ or ‘refrigeration street’ fro example, even the signs that direct across the 70,000-square-metre zone reference the past of the site. A popular favorite with young creatives (adorned with necklaces of Nikon camera straps) fashion students shoot their newest lines as hipsters shoot their new We Chat profile photo affront the perfect textured backgrounds. Life imitating art or art imitating life?
Although M50 was bourn from artists searching cheap studio space – that ever familiar tale of gentrification – Redtory is a government funded project. Rather than solely an art gallery, Redtory offers residency programs, lectures and collaborations with the local art institutes. Contrasting the gallery structure of Beijing or Shanghai, Redtory also operates as a functioning work space for engineering offices, product design studios and architecture companies. With many shops and boutiques, it is also slightly more commercialized than M50 or 798 but this too provides an alternative experience.
With its array of industries and low number of somewhat intimidating ‘white cube’ galleries, it avoids any claims of pretentiousness making it a charming day out. Therefor its not surprisingly popular with both Chinese and international art lovers alike.
Redtory 红专厂 Information.
Address. No. 128, Yuancun Si Heng Rd., Tianhe District, Guangzhou, China.
Opening hours. Gallery Mon-Sun 10:30am – 9pm while Redtory Market Saturday and Sunday’s 11:00am – 6pm.
Phone number.+86 20 6631 9930.