Making strolling through Georgetown’s streets just a little bit more exciting, in 2012 Penang’s municipal council hired London-trained Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic and charged him with breathing new life into some of the atmospheric Chinese shop-houses around the inner city. An effort to spawn awareness of the rich history of the streets, the project was a success with Zacharevic turning certain areas into thriving tourist destinations that also became the much-talked about object of attention among locals.
His artwork is spread out across Penang’s city centre, along roads like Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith, Armenian Street, Ah Quee Street and more.
Interested in this tour? Book it here.
Zacharevic’s street art is pretty impressive: the most widely known is the 20-foot high ‘Little Girl In Blue’, a mural of a young child dressed in ocean blue pyjamas flanked by the two real windows of its ‘canvas’ – a building along Muntri Street. Found just down the road from Eastern & Oriental Hotel, right next to this giant painting is a concentration of brightly-coloured trishaws just waiting to take you to see some of the more obscure artwork around Georgetown. Prices start at about RM80 for a one-hour ride but you can whittle it down to a mere RM40 for a 30-minute journey.
The Chew Jetty, one of the Clan Jetties (communities with the same name who live in waterfront wooden houses on stilts) at Weld Quay, is home to another one of Zacharevic’s handiworks. Titled ‘Children in a Boat’, the piece features a pair of siblings (supposedly), with the boy at the helm of the boat looking out to the ocean and the girl, dressed in a simple white singlet and a red bow in her hair, at the opposite end holding an oar.
Those looking for more quirky and funny artwork by Zacharevic should check out the two works along Ah Quee Street: the first is titled ‘Boy on a Bike’, a picture which features a boy wearing an unstrapped motorcycle helmet ‘sitting’ on a motorcycle. What makes this painting eccentric is the fact that the motorcycle is real – a prop set up against the wooden door of the building. The second piece is called ‘Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur’ a funny coloured-image of a young child with an outline sketch of a dinosaur on a leash.
Besides that, Zacharevic’s other designs include a piece named ‘Reaching Up’ on Cannon Street, a fresco of a young boy reaching up to a pot of real flowers on a window sill. In addition there is a painting along Armenian Street called ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’, which is similar to the ‘Boy on a Bike’, only instead of a motorbike, the prop is a bicycle.
Years later, the council commissioned steel rod caricature dioramas of Penang’s way of life (like the Tok Took Mee sculpture along China Street) from local company Sculpture at Work, to join Zacharevic’s creations. Other Penang street art by local artists include Desmond Yeo’s piece titled ‘The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler’ along Jalan Penang, and ‘101 Lost Kittens’, artwork by various artists from the group Artists For Stray Animals (ASA), who strive to create awareness over the issue of helping find homes for stray animals.
To best see the artwork, we recommend an evening stroll through Georgetown’s roads, starting at Muntri Street and ending at Weld Quay!
Penang Street Art
- Location: around Georgetown (namely Jalan Penang, Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith, Armenian Street, Ah Quee Street and more)