Sunday, 13 July 2014

Malaysia: Penang Street Art - Tips and Maps

George Town Penang Street Art - Ramble and Wander

Apart from food and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, George Town, the capital of Penang nowadays is getting more popular for its street art. First started as an art project for George Town Festival in 2012, it has created quite a buzz not just among the locals but also among the visitors to the island city.

These days, visitors are happy to just walk or cycle around the city to search and take photos of these interesting street arts.

George Town Penang Street Art - Ramble and Wander

No doubt these street arts have helped local businesses throughout the city as visitors walk or cycle around the city rather than just congregate in certain areas or sections of the historical city.

George Town Penang Street Art - Ramble and Wander

Following this success, more and more street arts have been commissioned all over the city, some of which are based on certain themes, like stray animals under the “101 Lost Kitten” project, which comes under the auspices of the George Town Festival 2013. These street arts not only help beautify the city while retaining its authenticity, they also create some awareness and appreciation about the issues that they cover.

While these street arts might have been prompted by the success of Ernest Zacharevic’s original work in 2012, the plan to “embed” art into the streets of George Town started way back in 2009 when the state government commissioned an art challenge called “Marking George Town: An Idea Competition for UNESCO World Heritage Site”. 

The winning idea resulted in a project called Marking George Town where each street in the Core and Buffer zones of the city is marked with caricatures made of steel sculptures that either explain the street’s history or give anecdotes about the street itself. 

For example, do you know why “Love Lane”, one of the more popular lanes in George Town, is named so?

George Town Penang Street Art - Ramble and Wander

Well, now you can learn about it just by looking for Love Lane’s street mark sculpture at one end of the lane.

George Town Penang Street Marking - Ramble and Wander

These steel sculptures are not only informative but are also done creatively to make learning the history of the streets and the city of George Town in general quite fun.

To date, there are more than 50 of these steel sculptures placed all over the city. Together with all the street arts, they have turned George Town into an open-air and living history museum. And they do make a fun day out exploring George Town to hunt them for some great photo opportunities.

George Town Penang Street Marking - Ramble and Wander

Here are some tips that might help if you’d like to go on a street art/steel sculpture hunt in the city:
  1. Dress comfortably and wear appropriate footwear – you’re going to walk/ cycle a lot. Apart from that, a hat and sun block would be a good idea too.
  2. Start either early in the morning or late in the afternoon – you’d want to avoid the scorching afternoon sun. Besides, shadows from the afternoon sun might also make it hard for you to take good photos of steel sculptures. 
  3. If possible, choose a weekday instead of weekend to avoid the crowd.
  4. Pick up or print a map to help you explore the city. Tourism Penang publishes a brochure on Street Art, which includes a map and can be picked up at the airport or downloaded online here. You can also refer to Google map here if you like.
  5. With a map in hand, you can choose to either walk or rent a bicycle. Bicycle rent would cost just around RM10 a day. A trishaw could be an option too. It can take about 3 hours or more, depending on the pace, if you opt to walk.
  6. If you’re on a limited time, identify the street arts and/or steel sculptures that you want to see on the map. If you just want to see as many as possible in a limited time, Lebuh Armenian (Armenian Street) and its surrounding area would be your best bet.
  7. Last but not least, don’t forget your camera and do enjoy your hunt! :)
And yes, while you're at it, don't forget to watch your steps too! ;)

George Town Penang Street Marking - Ramble and Wander

Going to Penang? Do check out these Penang hotels for your accommodation there.

For other things to do while in Penang, read Top Things to Do and See in Penang.

For other www.RambleAndWander.com blog entries on Malaysia, click here.

This is an edited blog post that first appeared on Virtual Malaysia under the title "George Town Street Art : Adding Depth to the City’s Character".


Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. Replies
    1. Hi Kasri, terima kasih. Lama ga nampak? :)

  2. We love Penang, but we need to go back to see more of the stuff there. We want to see all the street art!

    1. I need to go back too as I myself have only seen some of them. The number of street art is increasing so much so the local authority has to paint over some which do not fulfill the UNESCO "requirements" to retain the status.

  3. when old meets new = creative!

  4. UNESCO World Heritage site? Hmm.. Seems like it is a very interesting city, and it worth of visiting. Thank you for tips.

    1. Yes, a part of the city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's quite an interesting city offering a variety of attractions. Food is usually in the picture too and often cited as a good enough reason to visit Penang! ;)

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