Saan1: The Northern Quarter Backstreet Art Gallery Showcasing Exhibitions from Manchester’s Hong Kong Community

Don Mak’s ‘I Go To School By Bus’, which explores his relocation to the UK, will launch at the space this Saturday.

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 23 August 2022

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Perched on the corner of Kelvin Street peering into the kitchens of Solita, you’ll find art gallery Saan1 – an elusive space with grey painted panes and a collection of art from overseas. 

The gallery provides a three-storey physical space for creative minds to share their vision and create discourse within the community. Since April, Saan1 has collaborated with artists and curators and hosted a number of exhibitions and workshops showcasing works of artists from Hong Kong and the UK.

Launching on Saturday, Don Mak, an illustrator who was born in Hong Kong but now resides in the UK, ‘I Go To School By Bus‘ is the first exhibition held by the artist in the UK. 

It showcases two sets of Mak’s paintings; the first set is called “Once Upon a Hong Kong“, an illustration series for the same-named picture book published in 2019, depicting the sceneries of Hong Kong around 2018; the second set are England scenery paintings, created during Mak’s relocation.  

His work is bold and reminiscent of bubblegum anime with a Westernised approach to design. The artist first gained his skills at age 16 working as part of a local comic team of creatives, and his passion continued into his studies, where he studied art and design and Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University. 

He graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Design & Visual Communication in 2009, leading him onto his freelance career and subsequent launch of illustration studio, ‘DONMAK & CO’ in 2016.

The studio has gone on to collaborate with a huge range of commercial clients, including magazines, advertising agencies and more recently, it launched a phone case collection with esteemed brand, Casetify. 

Speaking of the exhibition, Saan1 said: “As the Hong Kong community in Manchester is growing rapidly, Saan1 is aware of the need for a space for them to celebrate their own culture.

“Originally from Hong Kong, Don Mak is a renowned artist and illustrator who has recently relocated to the U.K. His series of works ‘Once Upon a Hong Kong’ captures the very essence of scenes and places that represent a collective memory of history and culture of the city.

“By showcasing ‘Once Upon a Hong Kong’ alongside his latest series of England scenery paintings which was made during his relocation, Saan1 would like to introduce Don Mak to local audiences in Manchester and to initiate exchange and conversations between locals and the newly arrived.”

The gallery is also welcome to collaborations from curators and artists. For exhibitions, events and workshop space, please contact the team at – this is also the email address to use when booking a time slot to view the exhibitions.


Don Mak’s ‘I Go To School By Bus’

Date: Saturday 13th August – 11th September
Time: Thursday – Sunday 12pm – 6pm, Monday – Wednesday appointment only
Venue: Saan1
Price: FREE

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