Header image courtesy of @lydia.herself (via Instagram)
In Hong Kong, you only need to wander around the urban streets a little to stumble upon dazzling street art adorning the city’s walls and buildings. Apart from the numerous art galleries and studios that have sprung up in recent years, there is also no shortage of captivating street art gracing Hong Kong’s ever-expanding art scene. The small, cramped spaces of our living environment make it so that many large-scale artists have gone out to public spaces to express their artistic visions, using urban surfaces as their canvas. That also means we get to enjoy the fruits of their labour any time, any day. Whether you are looking to get inspired or simply want to marvel at the artistry of talented muralists, here are the best places to catch some intriguing street art in Hong Kong!
Easily recognised from a distance, Rainbow Thief may not be stealthy, but it certainly steals the spotlight with its kaleidoscopic façade and striking geometric patterns that form the shape of a fox. Originally a 10-storey residential building sitting in the heart of Sham Shui Po, Man Fung Building was given a complete makeover in 2016 by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel as part of HKwalls, Hong Kong’s annual street art festival. Capture the prismatic mural from across the road and you’ll also get a shot of the adjoining Kam Ning building that’s doused from top to bottom in a flashy shade of yellow.
You can’t call yourself a culture vulture without having been to The Mills. The former cotton mill has been revitalised into a thriving cultural hub of all things artisan, artsy, and creative. And its walls reflect this precisely. As soon as you reach the building, you will see that the entrance wall along Pak Tin Par Lane is lined with extraordinary murals rich in both colour and detail. The creation of six brilliant local artists, the murals celebrate The Mills’s vibrant history while simultaneously expressing hope for the future. They are all perfectly spaced out between one another, painted against a pristine white background, and displayed at eye-level—practically begging for an Instagram snap!
Wong Chuk Hang was the target district for the HKwalls project in 2017. In no time at all, the dreary grey industrial district was turned into an artsy enclave pulsing with vibrant colours and creative energy. Just a minute’s walk from Wong Chuk Hang MTR station along Heung Yip Road is where you’ll come across an impressive array of street art. Check out the mural of a giant hand entwined by a dragon-serpent hybrid on the side of E Tat Factory Building. The intricate details and bold colours make it seem like the creature is jumping out at you! Want to add a splash of pastel hues to your Instagram feed? Strike a pose in front of the new Lovebirds mural at the sitting-out area!
Once a sleepy neighbourhood in western Hong Kong Island, Sai Ying Pun has been brought alive by the swathe of eye-popping murals glamming up old building walls. Thanks to the Artlane project commissioned by Henderson Land to revitalise urban spaces, the stairwells and alleyways connecting Ki Ling Lane, Shek Chan Lane, and Chung Ching Street have been transformed into a colourful open-air art gallery. Walking out of exit B3 of Sai Ying Pun MTR station and just a few steps away you will be greeted with a giant mural of a young girl watering plants and a gorgeous pastel rainbow staircase. Follow the steps leading up to Shan Chan Lane and take yourself on an adventure through the lively Animal Town and Vienna-inspired Music Town.
Between its hipster cafés and vintage shops, Sheung Wan is a haven for the artsy folks. So it’s unsurprising that Sheung Wan is also home to some of the city’s best street art. Amongst the myriad of coloured walls in this trendy neighbourhood, Tank Lane definitely deserves a stop. Along the staircase, you will find an eclectic collection of art pieces created by artists from across the globe, including a graffiti of a mysterious woman casting a hypnotic stare by French urban artist Hopare and a Bruce Lee mural by South Korean graffiti artist Xeva, which pays homage to the iconic local films star. Tank Lane is also connected to Hollywood Road and Tai Ping Shan Road, either of which is a fantastic option to continue your street art appreciation!
What’s Hollywood without the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, and Audrey Hepburn? Alright, alright—the Hollywood Road in Central has nothing to do with the glamourous showbiz in Los Angeles, but that hasn’t stopped giant murals of the iconic Hollywood stars from making their appearance on one of Hong Kong’s oldest roads. Gracing the walls of Hotel Madera Hollywood are retro-style paintings of the four American film legends against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s glittering skyline. If you continue down the road towards Sheung Wan at the junction with Shing Wong Street, you will also spot a beautiful mural of two goldfish swimming in circles, an eye-catching mark left by Danish contemporary artist Christian Storm.
If you walk past Graham Street, you will almost certainly see someone posing in front of this famous mural—and perhaps also a fervent crowd of Instagrammers on the other side of the narrow street with their phones out, at the ready and eager to make the dash for a photo when a spot in front the wall frees up. Depicting a colourful cluster of old-timey residential buildings against a vivid blue background, Alex Croft’s artwork has become a treasured local landmark and the quintessential Instagram shot of the urban city. It evokes a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality that viewers can’t help but be drawn to, but don’t get too mesmerised—the street is usually teeming with traffic, so you’ll want to stay vigilant!
Encircling the centre of Morrison Hill in Wan Chai, Oi Kwan Road abounds in vibrant graffiti pieces by international and local artists. You will for sure notice the large mural occupying one of the street-facing walls of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. This masterpiece, created by Montreal street artist Fluke, very fittingly illustrates a woman with her hands held out in front of her, holding the words “knowledge” (知識) in Chinese.
Across the street, you will also find a blue mural of a swimming pool that incorporates a unique pixelated pattern, as well as several nature-inspired pieces embellishing the corners of Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School. Take your time exploring the area and look out for less conspicuous pieces on all sides of the buildings!