In 2012 the Penang Municipal Council commissioned Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic to create a series of street art murals for a project called “Mirrors of George Town” George Town is a World Heritage UNESCO site and the capital of the state Penang Island in Malaysia. George Town was a former British settlement in the late 1700s and was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia.
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The street art that Ernest Zacharevic has created is playful, interactive and pays homage to the culture of Penang. The creativity of this project has sparked other great street art to pop up around Penang and is one of the many highlights of things to discover in George Town, Penang. You will also see many steel rod art installations around the city that tell a story. The Penang Municipal Council commissioned Sculpture at Work to build these steel rod art installations.
How to find all the George Town Street Art locations
Luckily Visit Penang has created an easy to follow map to guide you to many of these wonderful street art locations. They are all walkable if you are staying in the heart of George Town near Love Lane and where most to the hotels and hostels are, but it may take you a couple of hours to see all of them in one day. If you do decide to walk to them I recommend breaking up the tour in two days.
Another great option would be to rent a bicycle. George Town is very easy to bike around. Not only is the topography of George Town very flat, but there are also a lot of places that rent bicycles, especially in the more touristy areas like near Armenian Street and Chulia Street.
Bike Share Program
George Town has a bike-share program called Link Bike with a bunch of stations sprinkled around the tourist areas of the city. If you have a local sim card and are able to accept text messages you can rent a rideshare bike called Link Bike. Link Bike has a phone app you can download to unlock the bikes. Just keep in mind the app requires you to verify your account by sending you a text that you have to be able to respond to. I was in Penang for a month so I just signed up for a 1yr package which cost 30 RM about $7 USD. But they also have 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, and 7-day plans. Check the Link Bike website for prices.
How Link Bike works
Basically, if you have the app on your phone, you can scan a QR Code placed on the bicycle to unlock the bike from the docking station. You then get 30 minutes free with the plan you select before you have to return the bike to any of the many docking stations. As long as you use and return the bike within 30 mins you can rent and return the bike an unlimited amount of times within your plan type (1-7 day plans) or (1-year plan). If you go over your 30 minutes before you return the bike to a docking station they charge you 1 RM per hour you have the bike out.
Here’s a great video I found on Youtube that prompted me to give LinkBike a try when I went to George Town for the first time.
One Negative thing about Link Bike: After using the bike share program for a month the one thing that was a let down was some of the stations were not connecting to the network. So sometime I would go to a dock station and not be able to get a bicycle because the dock was not able to communicate with the main network for some reason. This also became a problem when I needed to return a bike if the station's communications were not working, which meant I had to bike to another dock station that did have communication.
Ernest Zacharevic Street Art of Penang
Pictured are just some of the murals Ernest Zacharevic created. Ernest is a London-trained Lithuanian artist. I was pressed for time and was not able to capture all of the great murals on the list, but here are the ones I was able to capture.
Other Street Artist
Following the success of Ernest Zacharevic’s contribution to street art in George Town inspired a lot of other street artists to paint murals throughout Penang. Here are a few examples I was able to photograph.
George Town, Penang is not only a great city for its rich history, culture, and food. It’s also a very progressive city for the arts. I hope you are able to visit George Town, Penang as it was my favorite city that I was able to visit in Malaysia. Happy travels!!!