Phuket, Thailand’s touristy kitsch capital, is an artist's paradise! Here's why:
Walking along Phuket’s illustrated streets, it becomes clear that the artists are recreating the country’s lost cultural treasures
The writing on the wall here is actually a drawing. The colourful walls of Phuket, Thailand’s touristy kitsch capital, are its extra quotient of smartness. avant-garde images. Tags. Rollers. Skewvilles. There is undeniable energy and whimsical charm to such urban street art, from stencils to posters, paste-ups to murals. Walking along Phuket’s illustrated streets, it becomes clear that the artists are recreating the country’s lost cultural treasures. There are dialogues on taboo subjects such as the elephant-riding business, violence towards animals, discrimination against the girl child and more.
Old Phuket Town’s eclectic art scene
Distinctive Sino-Portuguese history, cute shophouse-style wooden houses, flower-clad boutique shops, traditional art galleries, nice little cafes and UNESCO- awarded heritage adorn Old Phuket Town. The art-ornate walls of Thalang, Romanee, and Dibuk Road tell stories of Phuket’s multi-cultural, multi-ethnic people, and the tumultuous past of Old Phuket Town. You know you are in Old Phuket Town when you spot the typical quaint canary yellow or turquoise blue buildings. Tread slowly to be swayed away by the striking images, captivating colours, and great artistic skills.
Where to start the walk?
In Phuket downtown, start with the works of Alex Face, a famed artist from Bangkok. His three-eyed child Mardi is a bunny character, pushing a market trader’s trolley with a basket full of money; it is one of his best works in Phuket. The popular character is inspired by his daughter. Mardi speaks for female children, the trauma they face after their birth, and the future that awaits them. Some expressionists would hate to know that the artist had to deface Mardi from the exterior of Peranakan Nitat Museum in Phuket Town since a majority of locals argued that it did not resonate with the values of Phuket’s rich culture.
The next pitstop is Thalang Road, where the walking tour of Old Phuket Town begins. Here, Mardi is a gorgeous moon cake, wearing an Ang Ku (the famous red tortoise Chinese festive cake) costume. This vibrant piece of art woos and educates visitors about the Phuket Por Tor Festival. The red turtle cake is an offering made to ancestors during this month-long celebration festival that begins on July 29 and honours the dead. This is the most Instagrammable street art in Phuket. The Phang Nga Road is home to some of the city’s oldest art galleries and has become an outdoor art gallery. A mural representing picnicking by sea on the wall of Jeed Rad Na Yod Phak restaurant is not to be missed.
Tick these off your list
✥ A stand-alone theatre, Roeng Chit, on the Ban Rong Chit is an artist’s hub since it’s open for Phuket street artists to freely spray their thoughts on the walls around it.
✥ Piyasak Khiaosaard, popular as Muay, is a talented graffiti artist from Chiang Mai known for his wall art at Phuket’s water entertainment venue, Blue Tree. One of his works has a powerful message that says ‘Keep Clean The Ocean.’