Kids on bicycle street art georgetown penang
Asia,  Malaysia

Street art in George Town, Penang

Now, I don’t pretend to be an art connoisseur – seriously, I couldn’t tell a Picasso from a Pollock. I’m proud of the fact I can point out a Banksy (as I should, living close to Bristol) and can name a Van Gough, but if I’m honest with you that’s as far as my art knowledge goes.

Even so, I was really keen to go on an art treasure hunt around the streets of George Town, Penang, as I’d loved the images I’d seen of the city’s street art and wanted to see them with my own eyes.

The art of Ernest Zacharevic

Penang’s become famous for its street art thanks to the work of Ernest Zacharevic, who was commissioned to create a series of artworks across the town for the 2012 George Town Festival. They’re fun, pretty and bring the local people to life, providing glimpses into everyday goings on of the city.

Boy on chair, Georgetown Penang
Boy on chair, found by the entrance of a quaint little gift shop.
Old motorcycle - one of the more famous pieces of street art in Penang.
Old motorcycle – one of the more famous pieces of street art in Penang.
Kids on bicycle
There’s always people milling around ‘Kids on bicycle’, so was happy to get this shot!

I found it so much fun wandering the streets looking out for a new piece of art, it was actually a great way to explore the town and I feel that I saw so much more of what George Town has to offer this way. Sometimes it can be quite easy to find the next piece, simply follow the crowd, but I quickly learnt to keep your eyes peeled as there’s much more of offer than just Zacharevic’s masterpieces!

Marking George Town

Marking George Town is a series of 52 – yep, you read that right! – Â iron sculptures found all over the city. Commissioned by the local tourist board, these are reminiscent of ink-drawn comic book strips and each tells a story relating to the location where they’re found.

Ah Quee? street art Penang
Ah Quee?
cannon hole, georgetown penang
Cannon hole – named as this was where a cannon fell during the Penang Riots of 1867.

101 Lost Kittens

There’s yet another series of street artworks, and these might be my favourites, simply because they contain…cats! Yes, I am that much of a cat lady. What of it?!

101 Lost Kittens is a series of 12 pieces of artwork by a group of Malaysian and Thai artists that were designed to bring to attention the plight of stray cats. So, great art and an important issue!

Love me like your fortune cat street art penang
This one’s named Love me like your fortune cat.
Please care and bathe me
Please care and bathe me
Kitten street art penang
At weekends you can rent bikes from in-front of this little kitty, hence the speech bubble!
Part of the 101 lost kittens project.
Part of the 101 lost kittens project.

Street art is transient, so for every visitor the street art of George Town may be different. Sadly some of the art has already been worn away or damaged, such as my absolute favourite featuring Bruce Lee (it used to contain three kitties), but then there’s others that local artists have added their own touches too, such as Skippy…

The real Bruce Lee would never do this! street art penang
And my favourite, entitled The real Bruce Lee would never do this!
Skippy for Penang street art penang
Skippy for Penang, the original artwork in full.
Skippy for Penang street art penang
Another dimension, added by a different artist – and one with a sense of humour

Finding the street art in George Town, Penang

Finding George Town’s street art isn’t that hard and it’s not tough on the feet either. The majority of the artwork is confined to a small area that’s actually really pretty to explore, with lovely little cafes and quirky gift shops to be found around every corner.

It’s tougher if you want to tick off every piece of art, and some of the larger pieces are a little more out of the way, but to help you your way I’d recommend grabbing a Visit Penang’s Guide to George Town street art as this has a very useful map!

Trishaw man street art penang
Trishaw man is huge!
Kungfu girl street art penang
Covering the entire side of a building Kungfu girl is a must see!

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles

By day Co-Editor Keri is a freelance journalist and copywriter, but spends most of her free time either travelling or planning her next trip!  A complete travel fanatic, she has a love of tropical climates, wildlife and afternoon tea (hence the creation of her Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!)

17 Comments

  • Emily Ray

    I was walking around Shoreditch earlier and was impressed by all that street art – but this takes things to a whole other level! I particular love the 101 Lost Kittens street art (I wonder why, eh?!) 😀

  • Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World

    Ohhhh – I love these. I’m a huge fan of street art, it is very popular here in Copenhagen, Denmark as well. The way the art integrates actual objects is also so fun! I think my favorite is the kids on the bike – so iconic and charming. Thank you for sharing this faraway place with #FarawayFiles – we’re happy to have you join! Cheers, Erin

  • Hilary

    I love this post! One of my favorite things to do is wander and find the street art! Great photos! From experience I know it can be tough to get a good shot of street art. #farawayfiles

    • Keri

      Thanks so much Hilary! I’m not much of a photographer tbh, but these were so amazing that even with my mediocre skills they still look good ha ha!

  • Katy Clarke

    Let me tell you Keri they did not have this street art when I was last in Georgetown. Ok it was a long time ago! I think it really adds to the flavour of the city as it contrasts with the colonial architecture. Thanks for sharing with us on #farawayfiles

  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    This street art is fantastic – I really love it! And like Erin, I enjoy the way that the art incorporates actual objects – it makes it all the more effective. Going on a street art tour sounds like a great way of exploring a new city. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiiles

    • Keri

      It’s something unique, right? Yeah I think a tour like this is definitely a good way to see a city in a different life and perhaps uncover some hidden gems!

  • Ruth

    Wow! I have seen photos of street art in Penang but haven’t seen such a comprehensive collection of photos (and the explanation behind them). I am charmed by all the cat paintings. Have to say all these is very unique. I like street art but sometimes the same artists work in “famous” cities and things can get repetitive.

    • Keri

      Glad you enjoyed the post Ruth! I get what you mean but I thought all his stuff here was really unique, never got bored of it! Same with Banksy I reckon – we live near his home city of Bristol and love coming across his art…

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