Headed up to Penang for a quick weekend getaway? Here’s a detailed and in-depth guide to help you find where exactly all the famous works of street art can be found in the main George Town core. For artworks outside the core area, head to this post instead.
Post updated: Feb 2016
There has been quite a boom of street art in Penang since 2012 and my last trip in 2014 when I first created this post. To make things easier for you, I’ll be recommending some routes that you can follow, as well as have a handy Google Map on hand so you can plan for short walks when exploring George Town on your own.
There’s a lot of information to take in – use this menu for a quick way to find the information. The route colours correspond to those on the Google Map above. I’m thinking of doing individual maps, but maybe later on because hell just updating this post for 2016 took me most of the day!
The street art in Penang can be classified into several categories below.
Ernest Zacharevic works: this Lithuanian artist is probably the reason why street art became such a big deal to Penang in the first place, after his commissioned work ‘Mirrors George Town’ for the George Town Festival back in 2012 became a big hit. His works are by far the most popular out of all the street art I saw, with queues forming to take pictures with these works and appearing on souvenirs quite prominently. He recently had a solo exhibition in early 2014 titled Art is Rubbish is Art, and now has works that can be found in various part of Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.
101 Lost Kittens: This collection of 12 cat-related street artworks is a project by Thai artist
Natthapon Muangkliang and Malaysian artists Louise Low and Tang Yeok Khang aimed at creating awareness towards stray animals. Here’s a quite detailed blogpost about where you can find all the 101 Lost Kittens artworks.
Urban Exchange 2014 and 2015: Creative space Hin Bus Depot and Urban Nation organizes an annual urban arts festival that invites both local Malaysian and prominent overseas street arts to Penang to transform the buildings with murals and street art. Beyond murals, it also brings together contemporary art and outdoor art installations to the streets of Penang.
Marking George Town: these 52 iron structures can be found in abundance throughout George Town, and were actually commissioned by the Penang Tourism Board to provide a fun pictoral anecdote about the history of the street it is located on, and is a rather fun way to learn a little bit about Penang’s heritage. I don’t cover that in here because the locations are already pretty well documented by the Tourism Board
Others: There are many different street artworks besides those listed above, some by random artists and others commissioned by the local tenants. I tried my best to find out info about these artists and credit them accordingly here, but if you do have updates, please let me know!
Another handy resource I used for my 2016 trip is Travel2Penang, which is pretty detailed and the street view maps were simultaneously useful yet hard to read somehow
*Remember that street art is transient and ever-changing and I might have overlooked some spots!
ORANGE Part I: LEBUH AH QUEE (Ah Quee Street)
Start from Lebuh Cannon junction and walk down towards Jalan Pantai junction.
ORANGE Part II: LEBUH PANTAI (Beach Street)
Turn left at the Lebuh Pantai junction. Walk past Gat Lebuh Chulia junction. Before you reach Lebuh Pasar, you should come across a carpark on your left where you should see these two artworks quite easily:
ORANGE Part 3: Gat Lebuh Chulia
Turn back down Lebuh Pantai and walk towards Gat Lebuh Chulia. Turn left and walk towards Pengkalan Weld aka Weld Quay.
*on the opposite of Gat Lebuh Chulia is another alleyway. Within that one you can see another of Louis Gan’s murals, which show two kids playing basketball. I missed that this time around!
After you are done with the orange route above, continue walking down Gat Lebuh Chulia till you reach Pengkalan Weld. Turn right and walk down the road (away from the Bus interchange). You should pass various jetty entrances, stop and turn in the one that says Chew Jetty.
RED Part II: GAT LEBUH ARMENIAN
Backtrack towards Pengkalan Weld and cross the road. Gat Lebuh Armenian should be directly opposite. Walk straight up the road towards Lebuh Armenian.
*another 101 Lost Kittens work entitled ‘Please care and bathe me’ is somewhere around here, though I couldn’t find it!
RED Part III: LEBUH ARMENIAN (Armenian Street)
After Gat Lebuh Armenian, cross the Lebuh Pantai junction towards Lebuh Armenian and walk all the way up. You will need to make a minor detour towards Lorong Soo Hong. This road is closed to vehicular traffic on weekends.
Whew if you covered all that, that is a lot of walking indeed! Stay tuned for the guide to street art outside of the core George Town area – we’ll be exploring outer areas like the south-western Balik Pulau, and even across to mainland Penang!
If you have any additions or corrections, do drop me a comment or an email please! I created this guide based on my own experiences and research, so I may have missed out some things or gotten locations wonky, so do help me make this guide better!
Looking for more street art? Check out my other street art related guides: