Street Art in Phuket Town
It was painted on an old crumbling wall by a French artist called Noé Two. And right away it became a focal point for photos, selfies and Facebook fans! The face stayed there, slowly crumbling over the last few years until it was painted over a few months ago. On this particular wall, it enhanced the environment. But quite a few streets in the old town look like the photo below, taken on Dibuk Road. I hope buildings like this can be left as they are.
All this new art started appearing in April this year, with various artists involved such as Alex Face, Rukkit and Liudmila Letnikova. I don't know all the names of the artists. It seems to be part of a locally organised idea called the F.A.T Phuket Project, meaning "Food, Art, (old) Town". I saw some photos appearing on Instagram just as I went on holiday after Songkran. Actually, there was a wall full of odd pieces of art at one end of Dibuk Road back in February although nothing that really stood out, more like a wall of graffiti - see here for photos.
So, with the art having been there for a couple of months, I finally had some time to have a look. We all headed into town one evening, not long before dark, had a good look around trying to find all the art we could, but the light was not great for photos, so I went back with the kids a few days later just after lunch for another "hike around town with Dad":) They love it really. We started at Krabi road near the Thai Hua Museum. Close to the museum, on the south side of the street is an alleyway that leads down to the main market on Ranong Road. And just after the narrow alley you find this ...
Nicely brightens up a slightly dirty street. And directly opposite there's a little something too ...
You could certainly argue that the whole wall needs a repaint, but it's the juxtaposition of the new art and the old walls that is so great. We carried on past the market and headed to Phang Nga Road where you can find a couple of art galleries and the old On On Hotel. Just about opposite Southwind Books (a very good secondhand bookshop) there are a couple of local characters painted on another wall that could do with a full repaint :)
(above) Art on the wall, Phang Nga Road, Old Phuket Town. Just a few meters further along the road, but on the other side, is the entrance to the Sang Tham Shrine, a Chinese shrine built at the end of the 19th century in between the old shophouses and, until a few years ago, devilishly hard to find! The entrance was smarted up and widened in 2013. There's a lovely painting a few meters inside the entrance ...
(above) Art at the Sang Tham Shrine
All along Phang Nga Road there are paintings on walls. Just a few meters from the shrine is a big building that used to be a bank, but has been empty for as long as I can remember. Someone has painted a lion here :)
After the On On Hotel, there's a yellow building called Pengman ... another old Chinese/Thai business. It's a very popular noodle shop with a cheap hotel in the back. And a big slice of art along the side wall of the building, very hard to fit into one photo!
This one was painted by local artist Mue Bon. Certainly brightens up that alleyway, bins and all. And not far along the same road you come to the Sinthavee Hotel, one of the older hotels in town dating back to the time before mass tourism. And they've got a giant tiger outside :)
There are a few unexpected paintings and I am sure we did not see everything yet. Just along from the Sinthavee Hotel is an alley leading to a carpark. A bit dim and dirty .. well, it used to be!
At the east end of Phang Nga Road at the intersection with Phuket Road, a couple of the more iconic buildings in town are being renovated - the old police station with the clock tower and, on the opposite side of the road, the old Standard Chartered Bank building, which was the first bank to open in the town - and the bank also financed the police station, much needed to deter robbers in the (at the time) fairly lawless mining town! The bank building is being turned into a museum and I have been waiting a fair while for news of it's opening! One other artwork was painted on this building, but had to be removed, which is maybe fair since it's already being renovated and is an important historical landmark in the town.
So at the end of Phang Nga Road, we turned left, then left again onto Thalang Road. The only new art along Thalang Road, which is pretty much a work of living art anyway, is found at the corner of Soi Romanee - as mentioned above. The beautiful girl's face that was painted in 2012 had all but peeled off anyway. And now you have this ...
And it's a very popular spot for a photo. There's a wooden bench underneath. But hard to get a good photo - need a wide angle lens. Plus, right next to it, you have this amazing bird ...
Hopefully the old town folks will allow all this art to stay .. maybe some more will appear. There have been various projects over the years to make the old town prettier. I can say that when I first went exploring these streets 10+ years ago it looked quite run down, like nobody really cared. But now things look way better and there are still works planned to bury more cables and events such as the Old Town Festival now take place every year to showcase the area.
Our little walk around took over an hour, and I promised my daughter a lemon and honey soda at the Bookhemian Cafe, a cool place with lots of books on Thalang Road, and likely to appear on this blog soon! We all had a drink and a rest there before heading home. Dad and kids enjoyed the walk :)
Phuket Town Art - Location Map