[Penang, Malaysia] ~ Where Dirty Walls are Neat

For it was a fine morning discovering expressions on the everyday – 11.15.16

While presence of steel rod sculptures within George Town came as a surprise, I knew about its most popular street murals prior to the trip. However, I didn’t expect such to be as many that discoveries happen of known (and unknown) ones happen randomly. Reliving that morning walk from more than a year later, I still could feel the amusement yet know with some tinge of sadness at the thought that in more years, these pieces could fade (or even disappear). Well, there’s sadness and that itch to go back.

What follows is a series of photos as my attempt at a virtual ‘walk-through’ with details on location and some personal notes (despite – of course – how one beauty of works like these is that ‘they’ are meant to speak to different people differently).


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THE BALLERINA

(Steward Lane, on the same building where Narrowest Five Foot Way is)

Artist of this work is unknown but just lovely how it captures the ballerina’s graceful attempt at balancing

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THE LAST CAR THAT PARKED HERE IS STILL MISSING

(Near Muntri Street)

While this may be less ‘art’ in the strictest sense and more of a warning from that residence’ owners. it was still an interesting reminder which obviously was not a matter of concern to whoever owners that car

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KUNG FU GIRL by Ernest Zacharevic

(Jalan Muntri, beside Chinese temple called Penang Ta Kam Hong)

This piece by Ernest Zacharevic is of a girl in her night pajamas trying to balance herself in between windows

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THE INDIAN BOATMAN by Julia Volchkova

(Stewart Lane, facing Klang Street. On a guesthouse called Clockwise)

There was minimal play with the actual building structure but I personally love how the end of the boat is integrated. I also took a close-up photo of the man’s feet to show this lovely detail of how the photo seems to ‘grow old’ with the building itself

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THE WHITE TIGER by TWOONE / Hiroyasu Tsuri

(Stewart Lane)

As read in a blog, this was painted during a street art festival called Urban Exchange in 2015. It got my interest though as it was located in a rather hidden lane which as in captured here they named as Bogus Street

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SISTER AND BROTHER PLAYING BASKETBALL by Louis Gan

(Gat Lebuh Chulia, street of old Kwong Wah Yit Poh building)

It’s one of my most favorite mural given its not-so-obvious location on the side of a building. I had to go in some sort of an alley to see this. In front of the mural is a small stall for souvenirs. I also liked the use of the actual basketball ring and ball.

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CHILDREN ON A SWING by Louis Gan

(Gat Lebuh Chulia)

Those children on a swing looked quite unnatural to me but I still love the attempt to use the swing. I suppose this could also be a fun photo op with the kids

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MINION by unknown artist

(Unknown Location)

So obviously, this is one of the finds with so many unknowns. It was rather interesting though as it plays with modern pop characters. (Kids who are fans of such are likely to get a kick out of this)

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LOVE ME LIKE YOUR FORTUNE CAT by an artist from ASA / Artists for Stray Animals

(Armenian Street)

Apparently one of 12 murals as part of 101 Lost Kittens Project, this shows a cat surrounded by maneki-neko or fortune cats

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THE GIANT RAT by an unknown artist

(Armenian Street)

While this appears a part of the GIANT CAT mural below, according to research this was made by another artist who probably thought it would be a fun addition to add flavor to the story.

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SKIPPY, THE GIANT CAT by Artists for Stray Animals

(Armenian Street)

One of 12 murals of a project called 101 Lost Kittens meant to promote awareness for love of pets. (Read a trivia that the murals in total feature 101 animals but instead of being all kittens, one of which is a dog)

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LITTLE CHILDREN ON BICYCLE by Ernest Zacharevic

(Armenian Street)

One of the most photographed murals in Penang and it is no wonder given that little boy’s contagious smile. (I even took this photo after some waiting time as several tourists take turns creatively posing with this)

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And this to give you an idea of what happens BTS

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I CAN HELP CATCH RATS by Artists for Stray Animals

(Alley in Soo Hong Lane)

Also part of the 101 Lost Kittens projects, this shows one trying to cat what seems a mouse. (I had to take a selfie by the way because this reminded me of my favorite author Haruki Murakami)

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WO AI NEE CHINESE MALAY INDIAN by unknown artist

(Armenian Street, wall of I-Box Museum)

Girl Power times three as this shows three girls of different descents – one Chinese, Malay and Indian girl. Add me and there are four and a Filipina in the mix

. ‘Wo ai nee’ translates to “i love you”

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TEACH YOU SPEAK HOKKIEN by unknown artist

(Armenian Street, wall of I-Box Museum)

My read said this is a controversial structure because it is located too close to a steel rod structure (close indeed as seen in this photo)

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DANCING LION

(Armenian Street)

Just beside the two previous murals is this one

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Mystery Kids on Locker Painting

My post-trip research won’t let me encounter with what this piece is called. Attached to some lockers in a bike shop, it makes me wonder that this may not be part of any festival or project but created by the owners themselves

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I WANT PAU! by WK Setor

(Armenian Street Ghaut, side wall of Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop)

Given how well integrated this is to the shop, the children looked too real and their emotions reveal they’re too eager to probably score what could probably be buns.

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REACHING UP by Ernest Zacharevic

(Cannon Street)

One of the most photographed murals although its location is a little bit off most of the murals in Armenian Street.Again, there’s fun in use of the chair and that cup to tell a story

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Unknown

(Cannon Street)

Another mystery mural but I personally think it is a nice complement to the boy reaching up opposite to it. In my mind, they could be playmates should they be real

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BOY ON A BIKE by Ernest Zacharevic

(Ah Quee Street)

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LITTLE BOY WITH PET DINOSAUR by Ernest Zacharevic

(Ah Quee Street, beside BOY ON A BIKE)

Created in 2012, the artist apparently did a repainted these two in 2016.

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Just like CHILDREN ON A BIKE, this is also a favorite among tourists and taking a photo could be a challenge

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Unknown

Another artist may have recreated boy with pet dinosaur

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ELEPHANT by unknown artist

(Armenian Street)

Such a tiny elephant with a pipe as its trunk. Upon looking at similar photos online, the text below is used to read “ART IS DYING”. Could not be sure though whether that is related to this

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THE REAL BRUCE LEE WOULD NEVER DO THIS by Artists for Stray Animals

(Hidden lane between Ah Quee and Beach Streets)

Another mural that’s included in the 101 Lost Kittens Project so it is not to be mistaken that people go all Bruce Lee kickin’ stray cats. (I missed to see it but as I’ve read just now, there is a notice in three languages that said that the real Bruce Lee never did this to cats)

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And I end this entry with this another mystery mural which I hope  is still there when I get the chance to go back.

How to get to Penang from Kuala Lumpur

Trains run from KL Sentral Station to Butterworth. Travel time at approximately 4 hours. Tickets can be purchased online. (I got mine from Bus Online Ticket.com ).

From Butterworth Station, ferry station is reachable via a covered pathway. No reservations can be made online as far as I know so prepare Malaysian ringgit in cash.

Walking is best within George Town. If you prefer a more systematic way to seeing the street art pieces, the Tourism Board has a print-out brochure which details all the street arts locations. There is also an online one that you can download here.

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