Art-spotting in George Town

imageI turn the corner and a 20-foot young girl in blue pyjamas grins down at me. This is the eighteenth piece of public art that I have found in George Town, Penang, this afternoon.

These colourful murals, created by talented painters, capture local people, cheeky children and cute cats. Some are literally as large as a house! Others are tucked away in side alleys.

 

I meet other tourists down dead ends and main roads in our quest to find all the artworks. A helpful leaflet marks out where to find 67. But there are so many more that are not marked on the leaflet.

This historic city and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Malaysian island has always been famous for its food. It is now art that encourages visitors, like me, to walk around its inner city streets.

It started when 52 steel-rod sculptures were installed in 2010. These tell the history and stories from the local communities, including an artwork dedicated to where Jimmy Choo learned his trade. These opened the door to more public art in Penang.

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Walking around art-spotting encourages you to really explore and take in the city. One of the most interesting areas is the Chinese Clan Jetties. Communities have lived in houses on stilts here for centuries. Packed tightly together, a warren of walkways connect the houses as the sea laps below. Between the food stalls and shops selling tacky souvenirs you see into real homes where local residents watch huge TVs in tiny lounges.

I don’t manage to find all the murals and sculptures before the call of a beer wins over but I found over two dozen including my cheeky giant and my favourite – the children on the bike that look so happy. Cheers!

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