How street art has taken over George Town, Penang by a storm
Georgetown Penang has long been crowned with the title of artistic city. Be ready to get amazed by the spectacular artwork all over George Town. In fact, it’s not the first time that we hear visitors to the region say that Penang has a distinctive vibe from all the other Southeast Asia travel destinations, mainly because of its unique street-art, awesome food and of course scenic landscape.
Listed as UNESCO Heritage capital, It’s urban but with an easygoing feel that offers a refreshing departure from the typical city experience of skyscrapers and traffic. With that, this beautiful island successfully attracted Singaporeans to explore the different kind of island especially taking a bus from to Singapore to Penang is so easy and affordable.
You shall be impressed by Penang’s street art, which is like nothing else in the world. For one, it’s quite unexpected in a historic municipality such as Georgetown, carefully placed in corners alongside the town’s colorful old shophouses. Though the artwork is fairly new, it’s been done in such a way that visitors feel like it belongs to the town and was there from the very beginning.
The beginning of an artistic city
It all started in 2012 when the municipal council hired a Lithuanian artist called Ernest Zacharevic to enliven the city with his paintings, this was done in an effort to raise awareness about the street’s rich history. The project became a huge success with Ernest turning certain streets into booming tourist destinations that also attracted a lot of attention from locals. His artwork can be found in roads such as Armenian Street, Lebuh Leith, Weld Quay, Muntri Street and Ah Quee Street amongst others.
One of the top pieces of art in George Town is the 20 ft high mural known as 'Little Girl In Blue’, it depicts a young kid dressed in blue pyjamas and surrounded by two real windows that she seems to be holding with her hands. This painting is found along Muntri Street.
A few meters down the lane from Eastern & Oriental Hotel, you’ll find a concentration of brightly-colored trishaws which are used in Singapore to transport tourists from one street to another. Most visitors find it easier to explore the city’s artwork this way rather than walking, rates start from RM80 for a 1 hr ride but you can bargain to a cheaper RM40 for a 30 min trip.
Use a trishaw to check out The Chew Jetty mural based at Weld Quay, it’s named after communities bearing the same name who reside in waterfront wooden houses standing on stilts. Another one of Zacharevic’s handiworks found in the same area is 'Children in a Boat’, the piece depicts two siblings inside a boat. The boy is holding its helm while gazing out to the ocean, whereas the girl who’s dressed in a modest white singlet and red bow in her hair, is at the opposite side holding an oar.
If you’re looking for a more quirky and humorous artwork by Zacharevic, then it’s recommendable to visit the paintings along Ah Quee Street. Here, you’ll find one titled 'Boy on a Bike’ which shows a boy wearing an unbuckled motorcycle helmet and sitting on the motorbike. What makes this mural exciting is the fact that the bike he’s sitting on is real. It’s set up against the adjacent building’s wooden door.
Right next to it is a piece titled 'Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur’, a funny colored-picture of a youngster with an outline drawing of a leashed dinosaur. Apart from that, other interesting murals to check out include an artwork called 'Reaching Up’ on Cannon Street, showing a young boy stretching his hands out to a vase containing real flowers sitting on a window sill. As well as a painting along Armenian Street known as 'Little Children on a Bicycle’, it’s similar in design to the 'Boy on a Bike’, though instead of a motorcycle the prop structure is a bicycle.
More to come
Moreover, if you are staying in a hotel within the vicinity of Love Lane and Lebuh Chulia, there’s no need to go far since a lot of interesting artwork can be found around the region. For those coming in from the end of Ah Quee Street, just turn right onto Jalan-Masjid Kapitan Keling and then left again onto Lebuh Chulia.
Here, you’ll find new pieces by Australian painter Vexta, who participated in Penang’s 2014 street-art festival dubbed Urban Xchange. There’s also 'Girl With Turtle’ which is a magical piece showing a girl sitting on a turtle, as well as their respective shadows. This artwork is a collaboration between Ernest Zacharevic and Argentinian painter Martin Ron.
Have you visited them all? Thank you for reading and have a good day!