Chiang Mai, the northern Thai city and formerly the country’s capital, home to over 300 temples, breathtaking mountain views and a rich history dating back to the 13th century…so having taken all of that into consideration I decided to write a blog about the city’s street art.
This is also only my second post so why the street art of Chiang Mai when I could write about so much more in this wonderful country?
Well, there are two reasons for this; the first one is that it has been hard to start writing regularly for this blog as moving to a new country and new culture makes actual ‘concentration’ very difficult. There is so much to do, so much going on that it sometimes overwhelms me. I don’t want to sound like I am moaning or making excuses, it’s just that trying to settle in a new country takes a lot longer than you would ever think. I want to write more about this in future posts so stay tuned! The second reason why I am starting with this subject is…well, because it’s a bit different and that is what I want this blog to be – Thailand is much more than sandy white beaches, clear blue seas and beautiful food (hang on..that actually sounds good…remind me why am I writing about street art again?!)
An Unexpected Surprise
I suppose there is a third reason for this post about the street art in Chiang Mai and that is because it was totally unexpected. It’s not that I wasn’t expecting it, any city will have its fair share of it if you know where to look, but it was the amount of it that took me by surprise – you cannot miss it, it is everywhere…and it’s really, really good…
The picture above is the first one I stumbled across and I love it. I don’t know if the character is an alien or if he’s green for another reason but as you can see he has canisters of CO2 so maybe its a statement on the air pollution that affects many areas with high populations in Thailand.
The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword
I love the one above which has a few smaller pieces next to a gun/pencil which strikes me as the artists way of saying the pen is mightier than the sword. This was the second piece of street art I saw while in Chiang Mai and it was on viewing this that I started to think I would be seeing a lot more as I made my way around. I was only there for 3 days and I am in no real position to say what the locals think about it but some of the art looks like it has been there a while and no one is painting over them, so I can only assume the local population have embraced it.
I don’t actually know if it’s supposed to be a sick tiger (am making these titles up…did you guess?) but a tiger with a green tongue, eyes and nose could be sick…couldn’t it? Maybe the artist just liked the colour or had a bit of spare green paint they wanted to get rid of…I could be reading too much into it, trying to sound like an art expert – it has been known for people to do that when talking about other people’s art 🙂 Either way, it’s a beautiful piece and my heart had a little leap when I saw it.
I’m calling this one ‘Title Unknown’ because I can’t think of a name for it because I am not that clever or imaginative but again the colours in this, as all of the work I saw, is so vibrant and the painting is so playful. This was at the end of the same road where I saw the ‘sick tiger’ above and I knew at this point that I would be writing about these discoveries for this blog…and here I am now, actually doing it. These pieces of art have actually made me get off my lazy ass and create my own (ok, yeah I know this blog isn’t exactly ‘art’ but..well, I’m being creative so go easy on me).
Ok, now my titles for these pieces of street art are just me saying what I am seeing, using hardly any imagination which is doing a disservice to the actual art so I’ll try to make more of an effort for the next one. The one above was tucked away in the bottom corner of the wall and hardly noticeable but I really like it and after seeing this I saw the same piece about 5 or 6 more times around the city.
Yes, it does say ‘Stap Wars’. I don’t know if calling it ‘Stap’ instead of ‘Star’ means something to the person/people who created it and that it has some deep political meaning or if they just don’t know how to spell ‘star’ – I have no answer but I really hope it’s the first possible reason.
Seeing An Old Friend
And finally, nothing says ‘world culture’ more than finding a character from an American comedy show in a city on the other side of the world…I don’t think this has any political message, I think they just like Family Guy which makes me love the people of Chiang Mai even more.
So if you’re ever in Chiang Mai keep your eyes out for the street art that is all around you, once you notice its presence you will see it everywhere you go and if you’re like me it will make your experience of the city all the more enjoyable as you make your way to 16th and 17th century temples and golden buddha’s
If you’re in Chiang Mai and fancy finding some of its amazing street art check out the link for a map and details – Chaing Mai Street Map
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