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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Want to save this for later? Or share with others? In addition to the above images, you can hover on the top left corner of the below pin for the “Pin it” button and share on your Pinterest account!