Discovering George Town Through Street Art

February 28, 2017

The street art of George Town on the island of Penang, Malaysia, is not only interesting to look at, but also gives us a peek into the culture of the area. There are 52 wrought iron sculptures scattered throughout the streets that blend humor and historical fact and help us see George Town through the eyes of the local people. Here’s a look at just a few of these sculptures.

AH QUEE STREET: The street is named after Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee who generously donated his house to the municipality for vehicular access ensuring that his name lives on for posterity.

SOO HONG LANE (The Narrowest Street in George Town): The hand-pulled rickshaw was the most popular form of transportation in early Penang.

 

ARMENIAN STREET: The Tua Pek Kong Hneoh Grand Float Procession is held in the Year of the Tiger to wash away bad luck and bring great wealth and health.

 

CHULIA STREET: At the turn of the last century, many shop houses were turned into cheap hotels, making this internationally known tourist strip very popular with backpackers.

 

MUNTRI STREET: Muntri Street was named after the Orang Kaya Mentri of Larut, Perak, Ngah, Ibrahim. The tin merchants of Penang worked very closely with Ngah Ibrahim as Larut District was one of the major suppliers of tin at that time.

 

Many of the buildings on the streets that the sculptures stand sentry to are adorned with paintings and sculptures of all kinds. One of the most recognized is a mural called “Little Children on a Bicycle” by artist Ernest Zackarevic on Armenian Street.

 

On a building where the facade has worn away, the bricks have been painted blue and the decay adorned with a small sculpture.

 

Even old shoes serve a new purpose. This shoe sits among several tiers of shoes that each hold a small pot filled with different plants and flowers.

 

This cat mural is part of the 101 Lost Kittens Project created by Artists for Stray Animals. In the art around George Town you will find a total of 101 stray cats depicted in 12 murals. The paint used for the murals is environmentally friendly and will wash off completely within two years. This mural depicts a cat catching a rat and is intended to generate a desire among locals to keep cats as pets, bringing along the benefit of reducing the household rodent population.

 

Also part of the 101 Lost Kitten Project, this mural depicts the procession of Taoist deities where the people are replaced by cats.

 

It’s hard to miss this large purple wall about learning to speak Hokkien by Malaysian artists Jim Oo Chun Hee and John Cheng.

 

Off to the left of the Hoikken mural are these three ladies perched on a shelf.

 

A restaurant on Love Lane lets guests make their own works of art… all over the walls. Every table is stocked with a jar of sharpie pens for you to create your masterpiece.

 

Not every mural comes with the same background as the wrought iron sculptures or 101 Lost Kittens Project. They are just fun to look at.

 

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