georgetown penang malaysia street art

It’s true, there’s some pretty amazing food virtually everywhere in Georgetown, Penang and we were told about it repeatedly before we travelled to Malaysia. What we weren’t told about however, was something we noticed for ourselves, pretty quickly, while walking the streets of this well-known city: an abundance of art displayed in just about any place a painting, drawing or sculpture could be managed.

From sides of shops and buildings to fire hydrants and posts, it seemed as though no matter where we went, an artist had left his mark. We found a plethora of murals and artistic renderings all around the streets of Georgetown, and, on occasion, on the inside of buildings as well. During our time in the city, we walked around taking a look at the incredible talent that was presented to us on some of the most unlikely of canvasses. 

penang chinese dragon and face street art

Finding An Unconventional Canvas in Malaysia

While seemingly scattered and at random, there are also several series of paintings, by the same artist, and with a similar theme. One such series of murals, by Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic, was painted during a 2012 festival and was titled “Mirrors George Town”. His artwork is truly incredible, often working iin aspects of the environment, like a bicycle or window, and can be found throughout the city centre, including Muntri Street, Armenian Street and Lebuh Leith.

penang street art murals by ernest zacharevic

georgetown street art by ernest zacharevic

In addition to the many murals created by Zacharevic, there is another series that is quite identifiable. A group of 52 welded iron wall caricatures have been commissioned, with approximately half already installed. These sculptures are humourous depictions of historical facts and usually placed near landmarks in the city.

welded iron sculptures georgetown

georgetown street art iron cartoons

We found them to be both educational and funny and made walking around the city entertaining. At times it felt like a treasure hunt, trying to find new sculptures that we hadn’t seen before! It was also like having a bit of a guide, giving away tidbits about the different streets and areas we passed.

wrought iron cartoons georgetown street art

wrought iron cartoons george town penang

We particularly liked the cartoon for Cannon street describing an actual cannon shot that occurred in this area! The cartoon says “A cannon shot fired during the 1867 Penang riots made a large hole in this area, hence the name”. You can find a complete list of murals by Ernest Zacharevic and the wrought iron cartoons, and their locations, by downloading the Street Art in George Town brochure by Tourism Penang

penang iron cartoons

The Contributions of Local Artists in Penang

There is also a lot of random artwork created by local artists that dot the streets of Georgetown and it added a welcoming, unique feel to the city. From large scale murals taking up an entire side of a building, to smaller scale pieces of work utilizing a building’s features, such as a window or door, each one is unique and interesting.

penang street art wall mural

georgetown penang street art girl mural

chinese painting georgetown penang

It’s incredible the amount of talent and effort each of these must have taken and it makes the Georgetown a truly remarkable place to walk through.

street art on penang building

There were even some unexpected surprises, like the painting of several characters around a window sill as we turned a corner, or the bear riding a bike that graced the wall of one of our favourite coffee shops.

window art penang georgetown

bear riding a bike penang coffee shop

This cat was perhaps one of the hardest to photograph, not because of its size, but because there seemed to be a steady flow of tourists lining up to take their photo with it. We managed to take a people-free photo on one of our last days in the city.

giant cat mural penang street art

Some we just weren’t too sure about – like the ‘Food Machine’ or the string cats that were attached to a post on the street (we thought that the way the shadows fell was pretty cool) – but they still managed to catch our eye!

odd painting penang street art

string cats penang street art

random art in penang

If you head to Penang, Malaysia, be sure to take time to wander around Georgetown. You’ll be amazed at the talent that graces the walls as you pass. Be sure to keep your eyes open though, as sometimes even something as unsuspecting as a fire hydrant can be turned into a work of art on the streets of Georgetown.

What do you think of street art? Comment below and let us know if you think it enhances an area or distracts from the cultural essence of a community.

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georgetown penang street art

22 replies
  1. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    WOW. That is some incredible street art. I really like it – in fact, I was thinking I’d go for a walk in my hometown today as there is a street packed with street art. A few weeks ago I went to an exhibit (hosted by my sister’s fiancé) of a famous local street artist who’s been painting walls all around Europe. Definitely an interesting way to make buildings look more beautiful 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jen Seligmann
    Jen Seligmann says:

    Great photos! I’ve heard of this area before and really think there should be more of this around the world. It just makes me happy and I think something like this really bring people together. One thing I have to say though, that giant cat kinda scares me a bit!

    Reply
  3. Curtiss
    Curtiss says:

    Oh cooooool. We hadn’t seen that purpley stuff. It has a great look.

    It’s especially fun to just stumble across these things… so don’t tell us where they are, haha!

    Reply

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