Shanghai Walks: Art and the Creek

Explore the artistic side of the Suzhou Creek

Walking time: 1-2 hours
Starting point: Xinzha Lu metro station, Line 1

1. Art warehouse

Head out of Exit 1 at Xinzha Lu metro station and cross the bustling Xinzha Lu itself towards Suzhou Creek and the bridge ahead. Don’t cross it, but instead turn left at the foot of the bridge onto the creek-side walkway. After a few yards, you’ll reach the River South Art Centre – a hundred year-old converted warehouse which now hosts regular art and fashion events.

Question: What seasonal attraction is housed in the converted warehouse next door to the River South Art Centre?

2. SOHO chic

To the right of the converted warehouses, a narrow path between the River South Art Centre and the pleasant Jiuzi Park leads to the SOHO International Youth Hostel. The hostel has a red brick nongtang alleyway all of its own, decked out with traditional lanterns as well as tables and chairs for sitting out. Above the alleyway, the hostel has a couple of smallish roof terraces with benches and swing-chairs that are sun traps on a nice day, making a great place for a drink.

Question: At the back of the alleyway, take the red metal fire escape steps to the top and look back. What lets you know where you are?

3. JR’s street art

Leave the hostel the way you came and take a moment to walk around the adjacent Jiuzi Park, full of statues of childhood games, blossoming trees and old men tending birds in cages. Directly opposite the park, across the water,is the converted warehouse that used to host Creek Art. While the art space there shut down last year, a work by internationally-renowned street artist JR is still visible, even from across the river.

Question: Where is JR’s work displayed?

4. Creative hubs

For a more direct look at JR’s work, climb up the steps onto the Chengdu Lu bridge, but make sure you come back to the south bank of the creek for the next stretch – it’s the nicer of the two sides. Continue following the water west and you’ll take in the newly-developed Butterfly Bay before reaching a junction with Huaian Lu just in front of the Puji Lu footbridge and the TBWA building. The Art Deco building to your left, where Huaian meets Haifang Lu, is one of a number of ‘creative hubs’ along the creek and houses Paustian, the extremely stylish interior design shop.

Question: What is the name of the building that houses Paustian and the creative hub?

5. Into M50

Continue west, hugging the creek and keeping an eye out for graffiti artists and their works as you head toward Moganshan Lu and the M50 art zone.

See our art exhibition event listings for details of current shows.

What does the symbol at the top of the tree of road signs outside 1918 Gallery mean?

6. Graffiti explorers

After looking around M50, follow Moganshan Lu west. Up ahead you’ll see the start of the street’s famed graffiti wall, which stretches roughly half a kilometre. It’s China’s answer to S?o Paulo’s Vila Madalena and features work from notables such as Kunming-based DJ DSK and American graffiti old-hand Mr Totem.

Question: Which English adventurer, writer and TV presenter, who shares a name with a mammal, graces a panel along the first stretch?

Getting home
Turn right at the end of Moganshan Lu onto Changhua Lu, cross the bridge over the creek as the road turns into Zhongtan Lu and head north for five minutes until you see signs for Zhongtan Lu metro station on Lines 3 and 4.

See walk three: Up North: The Kuomintang's New City

See all Shanghai walks