Street Art in Georgetown - Penang's History Through Street Art

The Street Art of George Town in Penang is one of the most attractive things of this UNESCO World Heritage Town. Penang street art gallery is beautified with a splash of colours on streetside murals, captivating steel sculptures, wall painting and commercial art. In 2012, Municipal Corporation decided to create a plethora of art depicting the rich history of Penang's George Town on its streets. Filled with imaginations and vivid art along the Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith, Armenian Street, Ah Quee Street, Penang Art Street Gallery is splashed with these beautiful artworks and caricatures just with bottles of spray paint in the hands of painters like Ernest Zacharevic, Baba Chuah, and many others.

Many eminent artists have contributed to the street art of George Town, including a famous local artist named Tang Mun Kian, who pitched the theme- 'Voices of People' which was a way of telling Penang's history through the wit of its locales. One artist whose artworks have overpowered the other is the London-trained Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. His work led tourists to pose against the beautiful illustrations which were otherwise just plain bleak walls. Soon after photos of Geroge Town's street art were made popular on social media, an array of artists head to the streets of George Town to make their contributions too. 

Know all about the eye capturing and radiant artwork on Penang Street Art Gallery for diving into the coloured lives of people depicted on caricatures and murals,

Cartoon Steel Art Sculptures - Marking Georgetown

Steel Art Sculpture of Ah Quee

A project “Marking George Town'' was started in 2008 with an aim to give a unique embellished identity to Georgetown. It was done in order to portray the everyday life of people in Georgetown with the help of some steel art sculptures. Four artists, Baba Chuah, Julian “Lefty” Kam, Reggie Lee and Tang Mun Kian contributed to give George Town a new dimension with 52 steel art sculptures. Some of the very famous steel art pieces out of them are:-

Jimmy Choo

Jimmy Choo, crafted by Baba Chuah, is a steel artwork sculpture made to pay a tribute to famous shoe designer, Jimmy Choo. Jimmy Choo who was originally from the city of Penang is standing with a show in his hand next to his master, a pupil and a customer in the astonishing sculpture.

Where to Find:- Muntri Street, Buffer Zone, George Town, Penang

Happy Hour 

This particular sculpture showing some administrative people smiling and enjoying their happy hour with a toast of drink depicts the Settlement of Malacca, Singapore and Penang in 1826. Stand beside these happy staff sculptures to have a perfect picture.

Where to find:- Transfer Road/ Jalan Transfer, Buffer Zone, George Town, Penang
Cannon Hole Sculpture on the streets of Penang

Cannon Hole 

This most photographed art piece depicts a falling person into a cannon hole. Cannon hole with some shedding light in the art piece is to illustrate the riots of 1967 which happened on this street using bullets whose holes are still visible on the street.

Where to find:- Cannon Street/ Lebuh Cannon, Core Zone, George Town, Penang

No ‘Plastic’ Bag 

To celebrate the initiative of reducing plastic bag, an art work with a woman facing difficulty to carry some grocery stuff and a woven basket seller helping her to get her grocery without plastic bag was named as No Plastic Bag artwork. This was created by Tang Mun Kian in 2011.
Where to find:- Prangin Lane/ Lebuh Prangin, Buffer Zone, George Town, Penang.
There are other 48 steel art sculptures in Georgetown with very informative yet interesting depictions on the streets of Penang making a total of 52. Capture them and learn more about the lifestyle and history of people living in George Town with those illustrations.

Fascinating and Quirky “Mirrors George Town” Art

Ernest Zacharevic started a street art project namely “Mirrors George Town" to show the diversified culture of the city. The paintings made under this project are gigantic and spread more colourful life on the streets of Penang. Some famous art under this project are:-

Kids enjoying a bicycle ride in this beautiful painting

Kids on a bicycle

Nominated as one of the World’s top 15 wall paintings, this artwork is a masterpiece depicting the fun moment kids share. The lively painting showcases every inch of an expression of a kid playing and enjoying the best of their playtime.

Where to find:- Armenia Street, Core Zone, George Town, Penang
Kung Fu Girl painting or the wall windows

Kung Fu Girl

This giant painting is on a wall and is made in a way that a window on that wall is a part of this realistic painting. It is all about a girl doing some martial art moves. It not only depicts a girl, but also is made to show how powerful a female is.

Where to find:- Jalan Muntri, Buffer Zone, George Town, Penang

Trishaw Man

Depicting a man riding a trishaw, this particular painting is the largest under this project covering a big wall of a huge building.

Where to find:- Jalan Penang, Buffer Zone, George Town, Penang

Commercial Street Art in George town

Commercial Arts on the Penang streets
A 3D embellished art depicting a rural scene with a portrait of the café owner beside whose café the painting is made. It is a sponsored yet cool artwork.
Where to find:- CannonStreet/ Lebuh Cannon, Core Zone, George Town, Penang

Cat Street Art in Georgetown - 101 Lost Kittens

Highlighting the issue of stray cats in George Town, Ernest made an art project ‘101 lost kittens’ in 2013. With a collection of 12 ecstatic murals depicting the tough life of stray animals, 101 lost kitten projects were a huge hit in Penang Island.

Major Murals under this project were:-

Painting of Skippy, the Orange Cat

Skippy for Penang

One of the biggest cat mural on the Penang Art Street showcases the orange color cat. That orange color cat depicts a real cat named Skippy who passed away and was one of the most admirable cats on the island.

Where to find:- Lebu Armenia, Core Zone, George Town, Penang

Cats and Humans Living Happily Together

Very strong with its message, this mural depicts the procession of Taoist and cats holding Chinese banners through Georgetown Street. It clearly indicates that cats and humans lived happily together for years which should continue in the future too.

Where to find:- Inside the Cheah Kongsi, Core zone, George Town

No Animal Discrimination Please

A cool mural based on color blindness concept with a strong message to stop animal discrimination

Where to find:- Armenian Street, Core Zone, George Town

Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat

Sweet mural with a straightforward message about connecting the real cats with the fortune cats and respecting them the same way. The intricate mural looks so real and lively.

Where to find:- Victoria Street/Lebuh Victoria, core zone, George town. 

Hin Bus Depot Art Centre in George Town

Vibrant and Colorful Spray paintings
A bus depot converted to the permanent art gallery, Hin Bus Depot Art Centre is filled with old things and rubbish converted to art forms worth a watch. Ernest Zacharevic, in 2014, organised the first one-man exhibition showcasing the coffee bean sack, old wooden doors, broken window blinds, car engine parts as amazing sculptures.

Explore the Hin Bus Depot art gallery for some awesome live music and picturesque artworks. Apart from this, you can also find some cool stuff around the Sunday market every week. Grab some amazing food and drinks in the famous chain of cafes on the street and enjoy the best getaway time. 

Exploring Penang Street Art

Walk around the lanes of George Town with a map in-hand including all the 52 street art iron sculptures and 8 artwork engraved by Ernest Zacherevic. Grab some street food and stroll at your own pace along the streets to explore the best artwork. You may hire a bike for a speedy roundabout the streets. There are some hotels and cafes renting bicycles or a trishaw for a relaxing tour around the streets.

Creativity on George Town walls is not limited to graffiti only. Steel Rod sculptures don walls that speak of cultures and traditions to the tourists. One needs to read through the messages that come along with the weavings and sculptings made against the wall in order to understand the symbolism and message the artist intended to furnish passers-by with. It could be a parody, practice, or anything that educates one about the state. 

Maps and guidebooks act as a guide to some of the artwork lined in Georgetown. You may want to get your hands on them. Every artwork in town is magnificent and speaks volumes for a historic occurrence. A tour across George Town is sure to elate every tourist. 

Have you ever visited and witnessed the artsy spectacle of George Town? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!

This post was published by Kadambini Sharma

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