George Town’s affair with Street Art
As Native of Malaysia it is frankly shameful to admit that I had never been to Penang or more specifically George Town a UNESCO Heritage site, until recently. In my mind,visiting a town in Asia with an English name is like popping into a Tesco in KL (I can’t believe there’s a Tesco in KL), however my preconceptions were misguided and I can safely say that George Town with its decades of history, culture, rambunctious hawker store scene and cosmopolitan outlook has worked its way deep into my heart.
The mishmash of Chinese shop-houses, Indian Trishaws and British Raj-era architecture is complemented by a recent addition of street art breathing new-life into the tired tourist spots of old. London trained, Lithuanian born artist Ernest Zacharevic started this trend in 2012 when the council for the George Town Festival commissioned Zacharevic and since then many other artists have joined the fray along with hostels painting murals next to their buildings adding to the thriving tourist spots.
Note: I’m not even sorry for clearly being a tourist in these photos. Everyone was doing them!
Many works of art blend real-world objects to signify what day-to-day life were like in George Town.
The two ways to enjoy this adventure of art are:
- The Christopher Columbus approach; Grab a map from your accommodation and have a leisurely stroll. Benefits of finding unlisted art!
- The Trishaw tours; There are plenty of trishaw tour guides who have ingrained the most popular and hidden gems. Costing around 40 – 60 RM depending on your bargaining skills.Benefits of seeing more art in less time.
We took both approaches on different days and it was a perfect mix of self-exploration and heritage knowledge. Though a word of warning the tour guides can be cheeky when asking for tips.
All in all wandering the streets of Penang is an incredible free activity which allows you to walk, talk and breathe the history and heritage of this exuberant town. And one thing it’s taught me is to never judge a book by its cover.
What do you think? Have you ever been a surprised by somewhere you didn’t think possible? Where is the best art you’ve ever seen? Would you paint graffiti as the same brush as street art?
“Blank walls are a shared canvas and we’re all artists.”
― Carla H. Krueger
Please Share on Pintrest!