Penang, known for its food and art culture, was made even more famous for its street art that was created by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. Zacharevic was commissioned to create a series of murals for the George Town Festival in 2012. These murals have been a kick-start for what has now exploded into many local street artists adding their masterpieces to the street walls and alleys of Penang. First started from the 2012 festival, George Town has now become home to beautiful pieces that tourists come to witness every year.
George Town’s Famous Wall Murals
The most popular wall murals were made by Ernest Zacharevic and Louis Gan. Louis Gan was commissioned by local shop owners to create paintings on the side of their buildings. Louis is a local street artist who has a hearing disability and was born deaf with a speech impediment. He loved art from a young age and taught himself how to paint through watching videos and practicing art on canvas. These two artists paved the way for more local and traveling artists to come and display their work. The street art is now one of the main attractions when tourists come to visit. The most famous pieces are located in the heart of downtown on Lebuh Pantai. “Little Children on a Bicycle” (at the cross street with Lebuh Armenian) and “Boy on Bike” (at the cross street with Lebuh Ah Queen) are visited daily by hundreds of visitors.
"Marking George Town": the wrought iron series
Along with the wall murals, there are also 52 wrought iron caricatures. The name of the display is “Marking George Town”. These cartoons tell the history of Penang’s George Town in the form of funny pictures. The iron structures began as a contest by the government in 2009, opening it up to anyone who wanted to submit entries to be considered. There were over 40 entries and Sculptureatwork, located in Malaysia, won the contest. Sculptureatwork has been installing the iron structures found on the walls within the UNESCO heritage site slowly since 2010, and they were completed in 2015.
Art in a converted bus station - Hin Bus Depot
Hin Bus Depot is a favorite place that showcases art pieces. It’s right next to the central bus station. It’s a coffee shop with an outdoor area where you will find paintings and sculptures. Famed Bangkok street artist Alex Face has a piece there on a wall hiding between a couple of trees. There is also a monthly art show, so check out their website to see what is being featured. It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee and explore the grounds.
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How to find the artwork
You can pick up a map that shows where all the famous murals are. There are many ways to see the paintings. You can follow the map and walk around on your own or take the CAT bus, which is free and stops near many of the murals. Another fun way to see the walls and the city is to hire a trishaw, which is a bicycle with a carriage, to take you to the different spots. Trishaws charge 30.00 MYR (7.00 USD) an hour.
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