The trend began in 2010 when the Penang government commissioned the studio Sculpture At Work (sculptureatwork.com). To construct a series of cartoon steel artworks to beautify the state’s capital, George Town. These 3D artworks, affixed to walls, provide a unique juxtaposition to the natural urban beauty of the city’s historic heart. A painting on Lebuh Muntri commemorates the business where world-famous shoemaker (and Penang native) Jimmy Choo initially apprenticed. While a tuak (toddy or palm wine) shop on Lorong Pasar. Is fronted by an almost life-size mural depicting a man mounting a palm tree.
When you’re thoughtful, beautiful, and on a wall, color is redundant. This black-and-white piece can be found in the Mural Garden at Hin Bus Depot, the place where all hipster magic happens.
Thoughtful Girl | © Michelle Leong
You’re not the only one prowling around George Town! The Malayan tiger is a critically endangered species — there are fewer than 200 breeding harimau, or “tigers,” left in the world — but with any luck, they might actually survive longer than this one.
Malayan Tiger | © Michelle Leong
However, the actual hero of George Town’s street art movement is unquestionably Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (facebook.com/Ernestzachas).
Zacharevic was commissioned to create a series of public paintings in central George Town for the 2012 George Town Festival, many of which he opted to combine with objects such as swings, motorbikes, and existing architectural features.
Zacharevic’s most renowned sculpture, a girl and a boy riding an actual bicycle on Lebuh Armenian (Armenian Street), has become a bonafide tourist destination in George Town, replete with long waits for pictures and a dedicated souvenir stand.
Zacharevic’s photos are now widely available on t-shirts, notebooks, and other souvenirs, frequently without his consent.
You can find this image on Jalan Muntri.
‘Kungfu Girl’, in George Town, Penang. Image by Lonely Planet
Commissioned street art
Examples of privately commissioned street art, such as this piece on Lebuh Klang, have sprung up across George Town, Penang.
George Town, Penang. Image by Lonely Planet
The Window Cat
Shyly peeping out of a corner on Cannon Street, this cat is proof that tabbies are subtly — but surely — taking over the world.
The Window Cat | © Hussain Ajina
Skippy travels to Penang! A member of 101 Lost Kittens, is Penang’s greatest (literally) call for better awareness of stray animals and the need of caring for them.
Skippy | © shankar s./Flickr