Graffiti has a certain connotation. Rebellious. Unsociable youth. Edgy. But the rise of street art has changed that concept to the extent that it raises the value of real estate and encourages visitors to explore not just the main thoroughfares, but side streets and alley ways. This will often lead to sitting in an out of the way bar or café and enjoying a simple quiet beverage, contemplating what you have seen and processing that you are in one of the world’s most vibrant and important financial hubs.
The Central to Sheun Wan walk is one of intrigue and curiosity. Vacant walls in this area have become giant canvases, depicting street art masterpieces. The walls along this stretch of bitumen, and those that dart off into laneways, are some of the most Instagrammed walls of Hong Kong.
If you hadn’t thought about stopping and looking at local street art, here is your opportunity to enjoy the free outdoor art gallery. This is an adventure requiring vigilance and curiosity and the preparedness to venture into side-streets and beyond. But rest assured, this area is gentrified, not a taggers ghetto. There are permanent displays that have existed for many years.
Street art is transformative and provides an insight into the vibe of the district and the soul of the city. If you like art, the area between Central and Sheun Wan is a great area to explore at a leisurely pace.
This area is easily accessible as it is close to the business district. It has also become somewhat of a tourist hotspot as travellers explore Hong Kong. There are lots of happy groups seemingly intent of getting the money shot, posing in front of the many street art murals. They are interacting with the art!
Visiting this district is a joy and taking a slow walk, looking intently at the surroundings is a wonderful way to absorb the area. It allows you to actually see what is before you rather than just walking through the streets looking aimlessly at your surroundings on your way to the next tourist site. Then there is watching humanity act in front of the art…quite remarkable and funny in equal doses.
It is easy to suffer street art fatigue, much the same as it is hard to be attentive in the Louvre. But here there are many establishments to which you can retire for a refreshment and recharge, ready to ask more of which mural is, indeed, the fairest of them all.
A selection of my favourite street art pieces…