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Cheung Choon Chemist 03032020
Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation

Best shutter art in Hong Kong and where to find them

We go nutters for shutters

Jenny Leung
Written by
Jenny Leung

Whether it's art galleries for photography, vibrant street art, or independent art spaces, Hong Kong is drenched in art and creativity everywhere you look. But did you know that there are tons of great art that's hidden away from plain sight? We're talking about shutter art. 

Organised by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, HK Urban Canvas is a community art project dedicated to putting a spotlight on small local businesses. Using shopfront shutters as a creative canvas, each of the shops and its unique historical contribution to the city is brought to life via these artworks. Here are just some of our favourites.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more art with our monthly roundup of the best art exhibitions happening around town.

  • Health and beauty
  • Mong Kok

As one of the city's most popular hair salons in the 60s, the Shanghai Sun Ngah Monaliza Hair Salon has welcomed everyone from local singers to international stars through its doors. It is no surprise though, as salon owner Mr Ngan is known for his passion and top-quality services. He even imported Japanese barber chairs – an expense that equalled to two flats in a tenement building back in the day – to ensure the comfort of his customers. Contrary to the common belief that barbershops are for men only, this salon was actually wildly popular with women decades ago. The shutter art accordingly alludes to the salon's evolution from having mostly female customers back in the day, to these days serving mostly males.

  • Shopping
  • Sheung Wan

Traditional craftsmanship can be hard to come by, especially in Hong Kong. Now the third-generation owner of Po Wah Furniture, Mr Liu began studying carpentry and painting when he was just 12 years old. In hopes to one day help take over the family business. Founded by Mr Liu’s grandfather in 1910, the shop was later taken over by Liu’s father in 1976. Now owned by Liu and his wife, the crafty couple creates all types of wooden home furniture such as wooden stools, cupboards, and even bunk beds using traditional techniques derived from southern China.

  • Hotels
  • Hostels
  • Tai Kok Tsui

Before you get too excited, you won’t find any wonton noodles to slurp up here. Instead, Wontonmeen is a rustic-chic hostel that sits quietly along Lai Chi Kok road. Built by the hostel owner Pat’s grandfather, this 11-storey youth hostel is a lot more than meets the eye. Not only does Wontonmeen provide a homely place of stay for tourists from all around the globe, but it is also a creative hub where live music performances, art exhibitions, and handicraft workshops often take place. The hostel was named Wontonmeen in Pat's hopes of bringing together a wealth of diversity through the wonderful culture and authenticity of Hong Kong – and what better way to represent that than a hearty bowl of Wontonmeen?

  • Health and beauty
  • Kowloon City

Established in the 1950s, Cheung Choon Chemist is something of a historical monument in the Kowloon City neighbourhood. Due to the lack of strict regulations within the walled city, this humble little practitioner's office was once a popular destination for unlicensed medical businesses to buy medicine from. There were even travellers from overseas who would make a stop here to fill up on 'supplies' before heading back to the nearby Kai Tak Airport.

Having stood the test of time, you'll find a breathtaking piece of artwork on its shopfront shutters. With Dr Fong, the original founder of Cheung Choon Chemist, holding a patient’s hand while a low-flying aeroplane from Kai Tak casts a formidable shadow over the surrounding residences, this particular piece of shutter art perfectly illustrates the iconic era in which this neighbourhood chemist was built.

  • Things to do
  • Sham Shui Po

Shortly after World War II, Kung Chan Cycle was founded by current owner Winnie’s father in 1946. Taking advantage of the main form of transport for many people at the time, Kung Chan provides bike repair and alteration services to fellow cycling enthusiasts. Whether you’re new to the two-wheeler game or a seasoned cyclist looking to upgrade your ride, be sure to pay Kung Chan a visit and exchange a few tips or stories with Winnie, who’s also a keen cyclist herself! The shop’s beautiful shutter art spans two shopfronts, adding a splash of vibrant colour to its surroundings in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood. 

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