Penang is often thought of as the food capital of Malaysia but as a vegetarian, that wasn’t what drew me to this island. For me, it was the art and the meeting of Indian, Chinese, and Malay cultures with a British colonial history. While the latter has been interesting to observe, it’s the art that really drew me in. I could spend days wandering around staring at the works lining George Town’s streets, pausing only to continue searching for vegetarian street food of the non-sweet variety.

Indian Boatman Penang

The street art takes two primary forms in Penang’s capital city, George Town: iron rod sculptures that provide background on the city’s history, and paintings. The former were the result of a 2009 competition to brand the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the latter started in 2012 when Ernest Zacharevic was commissioned to paint a few murals around the Core Zone of George Town. Other artists have since joined the party.

Kids on Bicycle street art George Town

Bruce Lee street art George Town
Not pictured due to cars: a cat off to the left running away.

Free maps that identify the location of all 52 sculptures “Marking George Town” are easy to come by and while I haven’t seen all 52, I enjoyed those I came across. Each provides a tidbit of history that I wouldn’t otherwise learn seeing as I’m here without a guide book and not planning to visit any of the local museums.

Kandar art George Town

Maps also indicate some of the more popular paintings but a keen set of eyes is still necessary as many are hidden behind trees or blocked by parked cars. And far more exist than are shown on any one map. Not surprisingly, many are often surrounded by tourists taking pictures of each other but I had those off the beaten track all to myself.

Skippy-Penang
Skippy here is the size of a Smart car.

Old Motorcycle Art George Town

Street Art George Town

Do you have a favorite of those pictured here? I’d love to know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “The Streets of George Town

  • November 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm
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    These are all so cool. I feel bad for the kitty getting ninja kicked by Bruce Lee though

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    • November 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm
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      So do I!

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  • November 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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    Fabulous! I can totally see why you are in George Town for the art. Very impressive.

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  • November 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm
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    Love the trompe l’oeil effect of the combined paintings and the 3-D components of the bikes.

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  • November 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm
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    The Barber’s vote for the young boy on the motorcycle in front of the red doors.

    Wishing you both the best.

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    • November 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm
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      Excellent choice!

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  • December 6, 2014 at 7:00 am
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    Uummmm, ALL of them!

    I am a massive street art fan and these are all FABULOUS!!!!

    And I would have loved to seek out vego food with you… yummy! 🙂

    So lovely to have met you and Jen briefly in Haad Yao and now to see that you are continuing the fabulous travelling in Malaysia! I’m heading to KL on Dec 16 for about 5 days or so (for a short sojourn before coming back to Haad Yao). I hope Malaysia treats you well! 🙂

    Reply

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