In the wake of the global growth of interest in art in the streets, one form of tourism that may soon be blowing up could be graffiti excursions, street art sightseeing, or even mural journeying. Having been declared a UNESCO heritage city in 2008, it is no surprise that Georgetown is now capitalising on this status and establishing a strong reputation for the arts. The Penang Island Jazz Festival and the George Town Festival have become international events, and you don’t have to wander far through the streets of Penang’s heritage zone before you come across all sorts of small galleries, antiques shops and arts cafes.
What attract both local and foreign visitors to visit Penang is to witness the delightful fusion of the East and West that rich in history and culture and also for its bewildering arrays of mouth-watering eats. That's what for my recent trip but currently, what attract me the most was for its vibrant showcase of these unique and beautifully painted art street, wall paintings and steel sculpture across the heritage area of George Town city.
Thanks to London-trained Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic who started off of these amazing and creative ideas by painting these colourful murals within the inner city and later, his footsteps followed by the local artists and cartoonists which helped to generate awareness of the rich history of the streets. They are fast becoming one of Penang’s most popular attractions. The murals reflect Penang’s living history by connecting the town’s heritage buildings to everyday images of its inhabitants, evoking a sense of old Penang but also mirroring life as it still exists in Georgetown’s quiet backstreets. Painted on imperfect, crumbling walls, the images are honest and down-to-earth, and have already become an integral part of the town’s fabric.
It all started off with a street art project called Mirrors George Town by George Town Festival 2012. Since then, street art has been popping up all over the inner city and has stirred up a media frenzy. Here are a few you will probably come across when you explore George Town.
There is a value on street art that can be found on every city in the world. It is a mirror of what we want to communicate without the constraints of formal art room, it is raw form of expression questioning the existing environment, challenging the changing world and the social issues that mask our daily lives.
What could be more effective but to use this medium just to simply remind us of what life once back then, when happiness lies on the simple things like our parents allowing us to play outdoor for a while and that exhilarating feeling the very first time we ride the bicycle.
Take an amazing tour around George Town to discover the unique wrought-iron caricatures with anecdotal descriptions of the streets that they adorn.
The walls of George Town are decked out in it, and with each narrow street you turn down you’re bound to stumble across something to make you stop and take a second look. The abundance of street art along with the fact that George Town is arguably the most intact example of a colonial city in all of Southeast Asia makes it a city that’s easy on the eyes. The mere act of walking around becomes incredibly interesting, and the city has perfect blend of old-time Europe and modern and artsy vibes.
Finding a new mural or wirework is just as exciting as the last and each one is an expression of the city’s culture – whether a moment in time or a representation of someone or someone unique to Georgetown and Penang. Spread over a vast space, with some more hidden than others, it is also a great way of seeing the main sights since you will pass them during your artistic exploration, at times stumbling upon parts of city you might not have otherwise visited.
This unique collection of street murals and wirework can’t be missed. Where much of mainland Malaysia is gritty and somewhat bland, Georgetown shines as a UNESCO heritage colonial town but with a quirky and modern twist. You literally don’t know what’s around every street corner, brightening up a dull alleyway or dominating an old building, which makes a wander around this city rather exciting.
A mix of bustling streets and narrow alleys, George Town is one of Asia’s most culturally diverse and colorful cities. Over the years George Town has developed itself as a vibrant showcase for worldclass street art. The creative installations can be found around every corner, making it a fun way to explore the center. Often, the art integrates seamlessly with its surroundings; bikes, bus stops, metal sheds or laundry lines become part of the experience.
The best part about George Town is, in my opinion, the fact that it’s designed for wanderers. And if you are always following the designated art route then you’ll miss out on the fun. The fun of getting lost, meandering around mysterious corners, finding unexpected treasures and unintentionally making up your own street art route along the way!