Penang offers a rich and multicultural history, is known as a ‘food paradise’, and has some pretty incredible sunrise and sunset photo-ops to boot. Yet hidden underneath these more conventional parts of the city, lies a chance to explore Penang’s neighborhoods and culture through its large collection of street art.
Marking George Town
The city’s street art is no more prominent than in the George Town neighbourhood. Here, you’ll find steel rods bent into over 52 different cartoons and caricatures; many show intricate and personal stories from as small an area as a single street. On some streets, craftsmen are permanently stuck in positions selling their wares, whilst on others, families prepare for the day. These are the product of a project known as ‘Marking George Town’ and are unmissable.
George Town as a Street Artist’s Haven
Steet art in Penang doesn’t just stop here, though. In recent years, street art has come to be almost a second pulse within the city. Venture down one of the many side streets and you’re likely to encounter some piece of wayward artwork. Ernest Zacharevic’s ‘Old Motorcycle’ shows someone running away from a crudely drawn dinosaur, held by a child, whilst another one of Zacharevic’s works titled ‘Kungfu Girl’, shows a girl balancing on the side of a building, preparing to kick an invisible enemy.
Interspersed between these murals, you’ll be able to sample another type of art: the local street food. Behind the food carts, you’ll likely find more images. This time they are by an unknown artist, someone who is trying to make a name for themselves in an increasingly busy scene.
Another artist to look out for is Louis Gan, whose murals represent his own childhood experiences in the city. For many of the artists, these expressions aren’t just for the purpose of art, they are in order to remember the history of the city. And the street art and graffiti scene are only encouraged in the city. If you happen by the youth park in the Penang Municipal Park, you’ll notice that almost every surface is covered in some form of art. This is an effort to get youth interested in art. The images on show here are unique and
As time continues to pass, more and more artists are flocking to George Town – and Penang as a whole – to leave their mark on the city. Each time you visit, the city will have more to offer and more vibrancy than the last time you were there.
What’s the best route?
For anyone interested in the street art which Penang has to offer, it’s recommended that you start at Jalan Muntri and then work your way through George Town in a general ‘turn right, then left’ fashion, until you reach the Chew Jetty. Don’t miss Lebuh Pantai, where a surprise waits for you in plain sight.
During this adventure, a quick rest at the Armenian Art Café will provide you some light refreshments, and a few more pieces of art; including one of a heart split into two by a pair of phone booths, at the popular Love Lane.
Of course, for a real avid street art enthusiast, the whole neighbourhood really should be explored. You can spend the whole day interacting with locals, uncovering great pieces of urban art and then grabbing a great meal at the one of Penang’s ‘food paradise’ restaurants.