Discover the artist’s second project in Honghe prefecture
Located 5 kilometers from the old town district of Jianshui, a historical city in Yunnan’s Honghe Prefecture, lays the third installment from local artist, Luo Xu (罗旭). This is the Ant Workshop (蚁工坊), an architectural art park that has been rebuilt and brought back to life from the remains of an abandoned kiln site the workshop sits on.
Since officially opening its doors to the public in August 2019, the Ant Workshop has developed into both a local attraction site and popular internet hotspot destination, luring online influencers from all over the country. The brightly colored, iconic five-hole bricks and pastel-colored buildings, have turned the architectural art park into a popular destination, especially for photographers looking to capture their next set of mesmerizing photos. Scrolling randomly across tourists sites in Jianshui on popular social-media app Little Red Book (小红书), eye-catching photos from the Ant Workshop will often appear, displaying the crystal-clear Yunnan sky beaming against the different angles of the Ant Workshop’s vibrant walls.
Exploring The Ant Workshop
When one first walks into The Ant Workshop, visitors will usually feel like they are opening the doors of a maze made up of different type of pottery-related buildings. Buildings similar in shape to wine bottles and bird nests are scattered throughout. hose familiar with his Luo Xu’s work, visitors will find similarities to the architectural style of Dongfengyun (东风韵) in Mile (弥勒), a previous project completed by the artist.
The Ant Workshop sits on a 15,000 sq. meter site that is engulfed by the area’s distinct red hills. Apart from its deep historical roots, the city of Jianshui has garnered a global reputation for its local artisans and the pottery produced in the region. Thus, the imaginative world of Luo Xu, pottery-culture of Jianshui, and digitally interactive features, are all intertwined providing visitors with an overall immersive experience. Bold, free, avant-garde, and wild come to mind when trying to describe the artistic style behind Luo Xu.
Visitors have their choice when it comes to buying tickets. A standard ticket goes for 20 RMB, but if one would like to enjoy all that the Ant Workshop has to offer, visitors may buy a 40 RMB ticket. This will give visitors access to both the art museum and art gallery located within the park. The premium ticket will also give visitors ceramic tokens or “Tao Coins.” These tokens can be used towards pottery purchases at the Ant Workshop’s shop on site. For followers of Luo Xu, the art museum and art gallery will give a deeper insight into the exotic, and wild side of his art mind. From the unique pottery designs, to boldly illustrated paintings, and expressive sculptures, visitors will notice Luo Xu’s repeated focus on the female body.
For young tourists looking for the next worthy destination to share with friends online, the Ant Workshop fits the bill. Apart from the plethora of scenic spots to capture attractive photos, the Ant Kingdom includes multiple craft shops, hotels ( The Pink Ant Inn, The Blue Ant Inn), art galleries, a canteen, and a unique cafe (Purgatory Cafe) to explore. In order to find the café, visitors must bend down to enter small openings found on the side of a mustard-yellow building. Once inside, pathways will guide you to the front of a cafe with a prison door propped in between guests and the café’s counter.
On the journey through The Ant Workshop, visitors may also came across plaques at the entrance of each individual site. Each plaque (in both Chinese and English) tells a part of the Ant Princess story, inviting visitors to learn more about the inspiration behind each art site. At the same time, visitors can witness how Luo Xu’s ant logo evolves in form and style throughout the park.
The Art Exhibit
Though a likely one-time visit destination, The Ant Workshop uniquely molds modern-art styles and Western-style art concepts with beautiful, outdoor architectural art concepts. Young visitors looking for something a just little different within Honghe Prefecture will find the The Ant Workshop worth a visit.
Check out other exciting places in Yunnan, including our previous post on attractions in Xishuangbanna!
Photography by Anson Zong-Liscum and Huyan Siyue