You may think art is something that can only be seen in art galleries or museums, but sometimes it can also be found all around us. In today’s busy cities full of metal and steel structures however, it is hard to spot “art” and one can often get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That’s why a trip to Georgetown in Penang is so rewarding. Here amidst the laidback old world charm of its streets and alleyways you will find unique artworks and murals that have become a part of the city’s landscape.
Penang Street Art as it is known cannot be found in any gallery, but is rather painted on buildings and walls around the city. In fact, some are so cleverly done incorporating real objects, you may not at first realise that they are indeed works of art! There is no one place to see these murals and paintings and it is often a nice surprise to turn a street corner and see a larger than life depiction of everything from kids to cats! Ideally look to stay at a centrally located property so you can easily walk around and explore the city. One option would be Georgetown City Hotel belonging to Berjaya Hotels & Resorts from where you can set off on your street art adventures.
Many of the well known street art pieces in Penang have been done by Ernest Zacharevic as part of a 2012 project called “Mirrors George Town.” Of course other artists have also contributed to the growing street art landscape in the city and the old town area in particular is a hub of such works.
So what are some of the popular creations? Undoubtedly one of the most well known is the “Kids on Bicycle” depicting a girl cycling and a small boy (presumably her brother) holding onto her for dear life enjoying the ride of his life! A unique feature is that the bicycle they are riding is an actual bike welded into the wall. It is a great place to pose for a picture and become a part of this art. Here’s a handy hint; since these paintings have faded a bit, try wear something not too bright so you can “blend” into the street art when taking a picture.
On you adventures around Georgetown you may also come across a painting of a boy on a real motorbike against the backdrop of a wooden door as he looks slightly worryingly behind him; on the adjoining wall is an artwork showing a small boy taking what looks like his pet dinosaur for a walk! Also worth seeing is what is sometimes called “Kung Fu Girl” which is a huge painting of a girl seemingly balancing herself on her hands that are placed on either side of two actual windows on the wall.
Cat lovers will love the fact that their feline friends are also featured as part of Penang street art. The collection which is known as “101 Lost Kittens” includes a gigantic painting of a cat referred to as “Skippy Comes to Penang,” one titled “The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This” which shows the martial arts legend in his famous mid-air kicking pose and a cat seemingly flying through the air and just to ensure there is poetic justice, a painting of a martial arts cat kicking a minion!
You never know just what kind of mural or drawing you may come across so just make sure to have your camera or phone handy to capture those street art moments.
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.