Displaced artists transform Guangzhou’s Xiaozhou village

Friday, 17 September 2010

Left: Jiang Ping; right: Zi Yun Tang

Xiaozhou, a small village in the Haizhu district of Guangzhou, southern China, is the seemingly unlikely setting for a community of innovative artists, who adopted the village as their refuge when they were driven out of the city centre in 2002 by rapid urban developments.

Xiaozhou house, decorated with oyster shells
The homeless artists were previously living in Xiaoguwei but were forced to move when Guangzhou University Town announced plans to expand into that area.

Jiang Ping's studio/gallery
The emerging movement has created an intriguing contrast in Xiaozhou, with studios, galleries, cafes and shops set against dilapidated village houses. More than fifty art spaces have been set up in the past year alone, with 100-200 new artists expected to move to the village annually to pursue their practices.

Zi Yun Tang's studio/gallery
Local residents have welcomed the change; many now earn an income by renting their houses out to artists moving to the area. And the artists also benefit from this new economy, as rent is much cheaper in the village than it is elsewhere in Guangzhou.

Yiang Ping
Chen Qian, founder of the two-year-old Xiaozhou Arts Festival, says of the phenomenon: “What an art community needs to grow are two things. A, cheap houses; B, a stable, convenient environment full of life. I think Xiaozhou is perfect, it’s a very comfortable, comprehensive place.”

Zi Yun Tang
Artists' materials


Sarah Housley