Do you count yourself as a city with “soul”?
“This city has soul” is a phrase often used when trying to muster up the words to describe a city with a certain X-factor. Having “soul” isn’t about flashy infrastructure or impressive skylines. Rather, it’s an intangible feeling that a city emanates from it’s very core that catches you in an unguarded moment that makes you think, “This city has a heart”.
Whether it be the people, the culture, the legends passed on from one generation to the next, or winding streets to get lost down- it is a very subjective observation to make. Maybe it’s somewhat easier to comprehend the antonym of a “soulless city”- although the optimist in me likes to believe that you can find something that gives every city “soul”.
Art is one feature which comes to mind when I think of a city with soul. I think it sends a very clear message about the character of city when public art is proudly on display.
Art in Taipei
Taipei city seems to be an active proponent of the importance of art in society. There is no need to keep your eyes peeled to stumble upon interesting public art in Taipei.
I’ve passed by countless statues strolling along its streets, admired the seasonal displays of art in the shopping hub near Taipei 101, and cast my eyes on the paintings featured along the walls in many MRT stations (Taipei’s subway system).
I always try to stop for at least a moment to let myself appreciate the work before I carry on way.
Taipei’s appreciation for art is no more apparent than in the very existence of Treasure Hill Artist Village.
What is Treasure Hill Artist Village?
According to the official website Treasure Hill hopes:
“To provide an open space to Taiwanese artists, writers, critics and other individuals interested in art and culture, as well as non-profit organizations, national agencies and other international institutions – a space without national borders that transcends the restrictions and frameworks of regional cultures and political conditions, that creates free, open exchange from a higher vantage point.”
Where is Treasure Hill?
Located just a short walk from Gonguan MRT Station, Treasure Hill is a maze of artist studios and galleries open to the public for free. Navigating your way around the narrow alleyways and stairs to discover yet another graffitied wall, hidden studio, or vantage point to cast your eyes on, you will find any dormant streak of adventurousness coming to full fore.
What can you expect to see at Treasure Hill?
On the day my friend Alex and I decided to visit, the sun also accompanied us in its full furor, making for a rather sweaty experience of art appreciation. Weaving through paths and clambering up narrow stairs to try and find open galleries was a thrill like a child hoping to discover treasure in the bottom of a sandpit.
The appeal of the place lies not only in the creativity which abounds, but also the old world charm exuding from its somewhat derelict infrastructure.
As the artists live on site, many of the galleries were closed when we went. Despite our bad timing, we still managed to spend a couple of hours at Treasure Hill. Upon inquiring at the information desk, I found out that many of the artists take a “break” from 12:30 to 1:30, so be mindful of that when you go.
I would highly recommend a trip to Treasure Hill for a unique and memorable experience which will offer a glimpse at Taipei’s soul.
Treasure Hill Artist Village details
No. 2, Alley 14, Ln. 230 Dingzhou Rd. Sec. 3, Taipei
Tuesdays to Sundays 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. *many of the artists take a “break” from 12:30 to 1:30 *exhibitions close at 6 P.M. *The operating hours of each Micro Loft studio are different. Please refer to the notice of each studio.
How to get there
MRT: (Green line) to Gongguan Station Exit 1→turn left to Dingzhou Rd. Sec. 3→walk to Dingzhou Rd. Sec. 3 Ln. 230 for 5-7 minutes→Treasure Hill→Treasure Hill Artist Village.
BUS: Option #1: To MRT Gonguan Station. 0南，0南區，1，207，208，208直，208高架， 236，251，252，253，254，278，280，280直，284，290，311永福，505，52，530，606，642，643，644
BUS: Option #2: 1，109休閒，207，254，275副，284，650，671，672，673，907，敦化幹線，綠11
What to do
Walk around at your leisure. There is an information desk close to the entrance where you can get a map if you want, however as each studio runs independently the map will be of little use.
Insiders tips about Treasure Hill
+ Take a break at one of the many cute cafes and enjoy a coffee, cake or a meal
+ There is a hostel for those wanting to stay on site at the village