On my first trip back to Shanghai this week (in search for work) I had some time to go to the M50. This one not being a motorway, the name stands for No.50 Moganshan Road, an arts district along the Suzhou creek on the grounds of an old textile mill which closed in 1999.
Apparently this area is well known and one of the better creative spaces in Shanghai for established artists as well as new talent. But even if you don’t have an art degree this place is pretty cool to wander through as it also houses some small shops, cafes and restaurants. The exhibition spaces are great and the whole place still has a very industrial feel to it. The area houses over 100 galleries and art studios and you will also find architects, photographers, graphic design offices, media companies, as well as clothing and furniture shops. And apparently it attracts tourists as well as art collectors. So far I am in the first category!
Artists started setting up shop here in the last decade because the rents were cheap. Since then M50 has had to fight against demolition as it is located on a stretch of prime real estate. The land and buildings are still owned by Shangtex, the state-owned textile group that operated the factory but since the art brought new life back into the old workshops, they seem to have been won over. For now at least.
There is a lot more to discover about this place. This time I only saw part of the area and some of the galleries were closed (probably because there was a typhoon coming that evening….) so there will definitely be a second visit. If even to get some of those bowls….