An interesting tour through the street art of Penang
George Town is not only famous for its historical site but also for street art. In 2008, the British colonial historic centre of George Town was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and since that moment, the street art has popped up with increasing vigour.
In 2009 the Penang Tourism Board hosted a competition called “Marking George Town” project calling for creative ways to make use of public spaces.
The Kuala Lumpur-based firm “Sculpture At Work” won the competition and crafted 52 wrought-iron caricatures with anecdotal descriptions of the street they adorn and that are George Town icons today.
In 2012, for the George Town Festival, a famous artist from Lithuania, Ernest Zacharevic, was tapped to paint full-scale mural work.
The pieces painted by the hand of the young Ernest are inspired by the everyday humans of Penang, capturing the lively spirit of the city through mischievous scenes.
Two of the most famous and photographed are the “Kids on a bicycle” and a painted boy riding on the back of a decommissioned motorcycle (pic nr. 1).
Most of Zacharevic’s murals are interactive, having components in which the art interacts with real elements.
With no doubt, his work is a fascinating depiction of art merging with the environment.
While the most massive concentration of these murals is around the area of Lebuh Armenian and Lebuh Cannon-street, the popularity of street art in Penang has spread passing the boundaries of the historic centre, and now you can notice it everywhere in the town.
You’ll find pieces by artists like Natthapon Muankliang, Louise Low, Tang Yeok Khang, Reggie Lee, Tang Mun Kian, Julian ‘Lefty’ Kam and Baba Chuah.
Need to Know
If you are keen on street and mural art, ask your accommodation or at Tourist Information Centre (10, ground floor The Whiteaways Arcade, Lebuh Pantai) the “Marking George Town” map. This useful map leads you around the city finding out all the steel–rod sculptures and the other popular art.
For more information, check our article about ”What to see and do in Penang”