Penang is known for its street art that was made famous after the 2012 George Town Festival. Lithuanian-born, Penang-based artist Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to paint six murals as part of the festival. These murals along with many others are what draws tourists to George Town every year. Along with the murals, new art has emerged in the shape of wrought iron caricatures and bus terminals converted into an outdoor gallery. No matter where you go in George Town, you are bound to see some art.
Penang's famous street art
The original six wall murals created by Zacharevic that were featured in George Town Festival in 2012, which is an annual month long festival, are now celebrated daily by tourists from all over the world. The “Little Children on a Bicycle” piece is one of the most photographed places in all of George Town. Zacharevic created the murals using local people as subjects and created scenes of everyday life in Malaysia using paint and installations of real objects. Since these murals have been painted, street art has grown all over the city, with many new artists being commissioned to paint their pieces on walls and storefronts.
George Town's history through iron cartoons
Over 50 wrought-iron caricatures make up a series named “Marking George Town”. This series tells the history of Penang’s George Town and brand it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site through funny cartoons shaped from iron rods. These pieces can be found mounted to building walls throughout George Town. They are work created from drawings of local cartoonists Baba Chuah, Julian “Lefty” Kam, Reggie Lee and Tang Mun Kian.
Hin Bus Depot Art Centre
As the name suggests, this place was a bus station that has been transformed into an outdoor art gallery. It’s steps from the Komtar bus terminal. Behind the Hin Bus Depot Coffee Shop, you’ll find a playground full of art murals. Here is home to artwork by multiple artists and you’ll even find a ‘Vans Off The Wall’ skate ramp in a section of the park. Monthly art shows are also held at this gallery so there’ll always be new art to discover. Ernest Zacharevic had his first solo show at the center in 2012 called “Art is Rubbish / Rubbish is Art” that featured thirty pieces of repurposed materials. Check the link at the end of this post to see a list of shows.
Make your mark in George Town
The George Town Festival jump-started what now draws thousands of tourists to Penang every year. Not only will you find the commissioned artwork, but you will also find many local artists making their mark on George Town’s streets. Be sure to pick up a map that shows the locations of many of the popular street art and iron caricatures. You can find the maps at most hotels and gift shops around the downtown area. Have fun walking around, finding your favorite piece and leave with a fun photograph of you making your mark in George Town.
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