“It’s great that amid a big city, a valuable art space like this is still preserved. I feel this is the pride of Vietnam,” a Taiwanese tourist said. The tourist said that this was his second visit to the village, this time with his family.
The village was built 15 years ago by a group of Saigon painters.
In late ’90s, a group of artists, mostly painters wandered to find a quiet, beautiful place to work. A wide strip of land along the bank of the Saigon River, in Thanh My Loi ward, District 2, HCM City, held their feet by its romantic and wild beauty. Late painter Nguyen Thanh Chau named it Ham Long (Dragon Jaw) based on the shape of the land.
Watercolor painter Ly Khac Nhu – one of the founder of Ham Long Village – recalled: “Initially, I just dug a pond to breed fish and built a tent here, as a place to work. Gradually I loved the quiet and fresh space in this place so I moved my family here.”
After Nhu, many other artists bought land to build their houses in this land because they all love the atmosphere and the landscape here. After 15 years, this desert land has become Ham Long Village, the home to over 40 painters of Saigon.
Each artist contributes a unique style to the village. On the strip of land of less than 10 hectares, the artists have created a unique cultural space featuring houses of the three regions in Vietnam: North – Central – South. Each house has a different style, including stilt houses and charnel-houses of the Central Highlands. The village of artists has its own rules to maintain its style and peace.
Compared with 15 years ago, the artist village has changed a lot. The 15-year journey is relentless efforts to create a diverse cultural space but imbued with national identity in the heart of Saigon. Across the river is the city center with high-rise skyscrapers… On this bank, a miniature village is nestled.
Ham Long Village in pictures:
Adjacent to the Ky Long garden is the Hue-styled garden of painter Hoai Huong. “Half of me is Hue. I love Hue and I thought why I don’t create a miniature Hue in the heart of Saigon like this,” the famous artist for oil paintings shared.A Hue-styled corner of artist Hoai Huong.
The original purpose of the artists is to create an ideal space for working. But gradually the unique, interesting village has attracted the attention of many people. Visitors can come here without having to buy an entrance ticket.