Where to find street art in Penang outside George Town Core

If you’ve been to Penang in recent years, you’ve most likely spent some time in the historic George Town. You might also have noticed the booming street art scene – since Ernest Zacharevic’s murals shot the city to international fame back in 2012, there have been several other noticeable projects and independent efforts that have covered even more walls of Penang in beautiful art.

If you only have time to check out the highlights of Penang’s street art scene, check out my detailed guide to street art in George Town. This particular post covers areas outside of the core heritage zone, places you might not ordinarily venture to on a short trip to Penang. Some of these spots require a bit of work to get to, so I’ve tried to suggest some other things around the area you could see/do if you add this to your itinerary.

Post updated: Mar 2016

Most of the street art works in this section are a result of creative space Hin Bus Depot and the various festivals and projects that they organised. The now annual Urban Exchange 2014 and 2015 (with Urban Nation) and Different Strokes with graffitiprints.com saw both local and prominent overseas street artists transform the buildings of Penang with murals and street art. UX2015 especially sought to go beyond George Town, which is why a number of these artworks are outside of the heritage core.


Click on the links below for more info:

  1. Purple Route: Hin Bus Depot and surroundings (outside core)
  2. Blue Route: Nagore Square (outside core)
  3. Brown Route: Raja Uda (Mainland Penang)
  4. Pink Route: Balik Pulau (Southwest Penang)

Also, handy Google Map for you:

Resources

*Remember that street art is transient and ever-changing and I might have overlooked some spots!

Purple Part I: HIN BUS DEPOT (outside George Town core)

This abandoned bus depot was transformed from crumbling old building to edgy contemporary art space. Started in 2014, their first exhibition was Ernest Zacharevic’s Art is Rubbish, and you can see some remnants of it still on the grounds. Since then, they have hosted various other art exhibitions and programmes, including a regular Sunday pop up market.

The art space itself is pretty unusual: there is an indoor space where standard exhibitions can be held – when I was there, an exhibition called ‘Relationshift’ was ongoing. There is an open-air sheltered space where I saw some artists working and having meetings, as well as the old exposed walls where the visiting international street artists have left their mark. Here’s what you can see:

Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Ernest Zacharevic Blue Girl
From Ernest Zacharevic’s first exhibition Art is Rubbish. You can find a similar girl in white near the Eastern and Oriental hotel where she was originally holding a black garbage bag balloon
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Muebon Board
Thai artist Bon also known as Mue Bon and his signature bird character can also be found on some buildings just outside Hin Bus Depot (an all black version!)
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot TwoOne Tiger
Japanese artist TWOONE has another impressive white tiger in a narrow alley off Stewart Lane. There were artists hard at work in front of this piece
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Sabek
Spanish artist Sabek from Madrid does a lot of animals in all black against colourful modern graphic backgrounds. This piece he calls ‘Reciprocity’
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot YES
Y.E.S aka Jesus Moreno also from Madrid, Spain has these distinctive block shapes that might not look like anything distinctive at first glance, but there’s a quiet aesthetic that is instantly recognizable and grows on you. This is ‘Tubes and Ramps’ aptly next to a skateboard ramp
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot ErnestZ Thomas Powell
On the left – another Ernest Zacharevic work from Art is Rubbish. On the right is English artist Thomas Powell who’s based in Penang and has had his own exhibitions here at Hin Bus Depot. Fun fact – he helped Ernest Z restore his kids on bicycle work when it was defaced back in 2015!
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Ernest Zacharevic Backbend Girl
Another iconic Ernest Z work – you can’t really see if here but if you look closely, the girl’s clothes actually have a very faint chequered pattern on it! It’s very detailed for such a large work!
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot idrawalot
I’m not sure if you can see this at all, but there is a face here I promise you. By Karl Addison aka idrawalot from Germany
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Alexface Wall
A rather faded work by Thai artist Alex Face. You’ll see a lot of this little rabbit creature around! You might also have spotted his work in Singapore too!
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Rone
Melbourne artist Rone popped by and left behind one of his ubiquitous face portraits
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Nafir Pillar
This is a stencil by Iranian artist Nafir, painting for the first time outside his home country! You will also see Nafir’s work in some of the other locations listed here
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Nafir Boxing
Another Nafir work
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Martin Whatson Love
Riot – Love by Norwegian artist Martin Whatson
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Alexface Gate
More of Alex Face, this time on the gate at the side entrance
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Muebon Gate
Fellow Thai artist Muebon on the other gate door

 

How to get there

Take RapidPenang bus 302 or 401 to Gama Supermarket along Jalan Gurdwara – there should be a big red ‘Gama’ sign on the top of the building so it’s quite visible. From there, using the super tall Komtar building as your guide (you can take many buses here too, it’s about 5 mins away), walk away from Komtar down Jalan Gurdwara. Hin Bus Depot should be on your right – you’ll see a sign for it overhead. You can drive there as well – there is parking inside the centre and along the streets around the area.

If you are up to it, take a walk along the nearby streets to check out some other works around the area. More in Part II below!

Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Entrance
Entrance from Jalan Gurdwara – there’s a nice looking eatery right here, and another cafe inside the grounds
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Outdoor Space
A sense of the outdoor space – the cafe is to the right
Penang Street Art - Hin Bus Depot Car
Just outside the entrance along Jalan Gurdwara is this funny car!

 

Purple Part II: Around Hin Bus Depot

There are a bunch of street art works in the streets around Hin Bus Depot – since you are already in the area, why not take a walk around to find them?

Penang Street Art - Lebuh Noordin Muebon
More of Muebon’s little bird – this is at the Jalan Noordin junction as you walk down Jalan Gurdwara right opposite Hin Bus Depot.
Penang Street Art - Lebuh Tye Sin Boy
Junction of Lebuh Tye Sin and Jalan C Y Choy: Walk down Jalan Gurdwara and turn left onto Lebuh Tye Sin. Walk past Lebuh MacNair junction and you’ll see this boy come up as you reach Jalan C Y Choy junction! It’s signed by Facte aka Facteone, a Mexican street artist
Penang Street Art - Lebuh Tye Sin Girl
Junction of Lebuh Tye Sin and Jalan C Y Choy: Is Facte also 27? I can’t quite verify this anywhere on the internet though. This girl is just a few metres down from the little boy on her left
Penang Street Art - Maccullum Street Elle
Junction of Lebuh Maccullum and Jalan C Y Choy: At Lebuh Tye Sin, take a right along Jalan C Y Choy to get to the next junction. You should actually be able to see this from the earlier junction – a colourful work with lots of birds by American street artist Elle
Penang Street Art - Jalan Magazine Hotel Jen YES
Hotel Jen along Jalan Magazine: Turn right on Lebuh Maccullum, and then right again up Lebuh Macnair. Walk till you reach the main road Jalan Magazine and then turn left. Hotel Jen is a pretty large building, and this super long (101m!) work by J.M. Y.E.S is quite outstanding. I stood across the road in front of St Giles Hotel to take it in properly
Penang Street Art - Jalan Magazine Hotel Jen Sabek
Hotel Jen facing Lebuh Lintang: Cross the road and turn right to walk down Lebuh Lintang – this work by Sabek of a swan (falling or flying?) is on the side of the hotel facing the large shopping mall Avenue One.

 

Penang Street Art - Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong Bibichun
Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong: Walk all the way up Lebuh Lintang past the shopping mall. In a carpark across the street from the Avenue One shopping mall is this odd work. It used to be a tapir, but has since be defaced and transformed. It looks to be a part of Bibichun’s work which plays off other street art works in Penang

 

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Blue: JALAN NAGOR / NAGORE SQUARE

Nagore Square is a mall concept that takes up most of Jalan Nagor (also sometimes written as Jalan Nagore) – the shophouses here have been cleaned up so it looks like a spruced up version of actual George Town core. Many of the Urban Xchange works from 2014 and 2015 can be found along this stretch.

Start from Jalan Burma and walk up Jalan Nagor:

Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Retro Smoking Lady
Junction of Jalan Burma and Jalan Nagor: This retro smoking lady ‘sits’ on a stool just outside this hipster yoghurt place on the right hand side. I popped in here for a quick cool down
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Martin Whatson Angel
Just a bit further up from the retro lady is this angel with graffiti wings – Norwegian artist Martin Whatson’s work
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Nafir FB Likes
Facing the smoking lady and angel on the left hand side walls is this stencil by Iranian artist Nafir
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Fauzan Faud Food Machine
Just a little bit further down from Nafir’s work is this Food Machine by Fauzan Faud which partially uses the actual pipes
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Styrts
Nagore Mews: On the right side is this large pair of faces signed by Stryts. Don’t just walk past this little alcove – turn right and walk inside where there are more artworks hidden
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Rone
Nagore Mews: When you turn back around, this portrait by Melbournian street artist Rone should be on your left. You might also notice Thai artist Alex Face with his signature character on the wall behind?
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore idrawalot
Nagore Mews: On the right side of the mews – German artist idrawalot has left a face here
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Love Mothers
Nagore Mews: In between the two works – don’t know if this is related to any of the UX projects?
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Elle
Jalan Bawasah: At the junction of Jalan Nagor and Jalan Bawasah, turn left – you should see this work by American street artist on the wall to your right
Penang Street Art - Jalan Nagore Nafir-AlexFace
Jalan Bawasah Car Park: Turn back around from the Elle work and head along Jalan Bawasah towards Lorong Swatow. There should be a carpark on your right. Walk into the carpark – this work is hidden right at the back of the carpark close to the back of the Nagore Mews. It’s a combined work by Nafir and Alex Face!
Penang Street Art - Jalan Hutton Daleast
New Savoy Hotel: When you come out of the carpark, turn right till you hit Lorong Swatow. Turn left and walk up Lorong Swatow until you hit Jalan Hutton. Turn right, you should see New Savoy Hotel just ahead of you. Walk into the hotel grounds and head to the carpark on the right. This giant beautiful piece by Chinese artist Daleast emblazons the wall on the right. It’s my favourite piece of all!

 

How to get there

Take RapidPenang Buses 101, 102, 103, 104 or 304 to New World Square along Jalan Burma. Another landmark you can use is Penang Plaza. From there it’s a short walk to Jalan Nagore. There is a big Nagore Square sign across this street so it’s hard to miss.

Not sure if it’s because I was there at odd timings, but Nagore Mews and a lot of the shops at Nagore Square see a little bit quiet. Perhaps it is still rather new? There is a food centre (New World Park) if you want cheaper eating options, but I also had a pretty good massage at Yang Shen Tang along Jalan Burma, a massage centre – they have ‘happy hour’ pricings in the afternoon before 3pm as their crowd tends to come in quite late after work, so if you go there early like I did, you can walk in without having to make any appointments

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Brown: BUTTERWORTH – RAJA UDA

Some of the Urban Exchange works have made their way across the straits to Butterworth, mainland Penang. In particular, this place is called Raja Uda. It’s a pretty long road, but the works are situated along one particular stretch.

Start from the cross junction of Jalan Rada Uda and Jalan Telaga Air / Jalan Permatang Pauh.

Penang Street Art - Raja Uda Nafir
Junction of Jalan Raja Uda and Jalan Permatang Pauh: you should be able to see this exquisite piece by Iranian artist Nafir high up on the wall on your right side. I couldn’t really get much closer for a proper look – I took this from across the street!
Penang Street Art - Raja Uda Sabek
Jalan Raja Uda: You should be able to see this artwork by Spanish artist Sabek in the distance from the junction of Jalan Raja Uda and Jalan Telaga Air above on the left side of the road. If you go closer, this is on the side of a building with the Senheng Eletrik sign (the red and green sign), and facing Aeon Credit service.
Penang Street Art - Raja Uda Sabek Closer
Here’s a slightly closer view of the work. It’s really huge, 3 storeys high! There was actually an earlier incarnation of this work – see it here. Given its title ‘decisions’, it seems to reference Adam and Eve and the choice to eat (or not) the forbidden fruit

Bonus – to the left of this artwork is a clearing and what looks like an abandoned carpark. There is a large star installation that looks like it’s lodged in the middle of this concrete structure. It was a key art piece for UX2015 and looks especially impressive when lit up at night!

Penang Street Art - Raja Uda Martin Ron
Jalan Raja Uda: even further down the road on the right hand side (be careful crossing this big main road, no pedestrian crossings!), look for Soon Soon Lye Salmon Fish Head – there is an alleyway to your right. You should emerge into a carpark clearing on your left with this impressive Martin Ron work! This piece is by Argentian artist Martin Ron for Different Strokes.

 

Bonus piece for intrepid explorers – this piece by Portuguese artist Vhils for UX2015 is quite near the Ferry Terminal, not quite on the way to any of the other works if you are taking the bus, but if you have a bit of time, walk over to check this one out!

Penang Street Art - Butterworth Vhils
Jalan Metcher: When you are at the main entrance of the Bus Interchange, turn left and walk along the main road. The highway flyover should be on your right. Look for the Penang International Dental College – it’s a tall blue building right next to the flyover. This dilapidated building is right in front of the Dental College – I took this picture standing under the flyover where a lot of cars were parked

 

How to get there

Take the ferry from Pengkalan Weld aka Jetty – it should be free from Island to Mainland (but it costs 1.20RM from Mainland to Island). The ride itself is about 20mins long. From there, it’s a bit of a walk from the ferry landing point past the KRM railway till you get to the bus interchange. Take bus numbers 605 to Jalan Telaga Air and then take 604 from Jalan Raja Uda back to the Jetty to follow my guide, or you can flip them around and walk in reverse as well.

I highly recommend you don’t try walking to Raja Uda like I did – at one point this was the longest road in Malaysia and I didn’t realize I was attempting to walk over 2.5km in blazing afternoon heat! Take a bus like sane people – the bus takes about 10-15 mins from the bus interchange, and from there it’s a much more manageable walk.

Some of my own thoughts: Raja Uda feels like a surburban area in that there’s no major tourist attractions to see here, though apparently there is good food around the area. Also, this town is not set up for pedestrians. You hardly see anyone walking on the roads mostly because there are hardly any pavements or pedestrian crossings. Most people get around on motorbikes or cars, but as Malaysia goes it’s fairly slack about rules, so just be careful when dashing across the roads, and look out for motorbikes going the wrong way and drains with no grates.

Some way-finding help:

Penang Street Art - Raja Uda Wayfinding

Penang Street Art - Butterworth Penang Dental College
The vhils work is on the blue wall just in front of the dental college, which is a nice tall building for you to spot easily. I was standing under the freeway when I took this shot. The coastline/ferry terminal is behind me

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Pink: BALIK PULAU – South-West Penang

 

This name literally means back (balik) of the island (pulau), and it feels a little like this town has been tucked away from everything. The artworks (mostly by Russian artist Julia Volchkova) here can be found on one main stretch in the busiest part of town, though Balik Pulau actually refers to the entire surrounding rural area as well.

I suggest starting your journey from the bus stop just after Shell station along Jalan Balik Pulau if possible, so you will end up near the bus interchange at the end. I’ll talk a bit more about why in the ‘How to get there’ bit below. But first, artworks!

Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Silat Master JuliaV
near junction of Jalan Balik Pulau and Jalau Sungai Pinang: You should spot this work quite clearly from the Shell station – this area is the outskirt leading towards the busier town center. It is 1 of 3 Julia Volchkova works in the area and depicts Silat, a traditional Malay martial art form
Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Dancing Girl JuliaV
Jalan Balik Pulau: On the same block of shophouses as Silat Master but on the far side facing an empty plot of land, you will find another Julia Volchkova artwork of a Hakka dancing girl, which speaks to the heritage of the residents in the area
Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Fisherman JuliaV
Junction of Jalan Balik Pulau and Jalan Tun Sardon: Keep walking up the road. It should get busier. On your left, look for Kedai Makan Dan Minum – Choo Kim Choon. This painting of an old fisherman by Julia Volchkova is on the side of the building facing the carpark next to this eating house.
Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Silversmith ErnestZ
Opposite Sacred Heart School: Keep walking down Jalan Balik Pulau after the old fisherman. Another small car park should come up on your left, and you will see this work by Ernest Zacharevic facing you. The edge of the Sacred Heart High School (SBK) grounds is on the right side of the road. This portrait is of one of the last remaining Silversmiths that you can find in Penang, located in Balik Pulau! It’s quite different from his usual artworks – the whiter markings seem to be a result of cleaning the wall more than using actual paints!

 

How to get there

I took RapidPenang public bus 401/401E from the airport which took about half an hour and cost 2RM. You can also take 502 if you’re coming from George Town – 401/401E can also take you all the way to George Town’s Pengkalan Weld / Weld Quay terminal (also called ‘Jeti/Jetty’) – it takes 1.5hrs but costs just 4RM. 502 should be a faster journey.

Try and drop at the Shell station along Jalan Balik Pulau road if possible, so that when you end your walk after the Ernest Zacharevic work, you are close to the bus interchange and can wait in a nice sheltered area with seats for your bus out of the area. The bus stop near the Silat master heading away from Balik Pulau doesn’t even have a sign, just a butcher stand nearby.

Some way-finding help:

Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Wayfinding 2

Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Wayfinding

Penang Street Art - Balik Pulau Bus Interchange
Given the distance from George Town, you might want to make a half day trip out of this. Balik Pulau is a much more remote place and popular for durian and Laksa. The main street itself is mostly shops and food, so you could look into cycling/hiking around the area if you are so inclined.

 

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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:

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