There was a time when drawing on walls was considered a city nuisance, and graffiti was another word for vandalism. Today, when managed well, some of these larger-than-life doodles on walls have evolved into a form of city storytelling – directing attention to the architecture around them, adding color and context – almost weaving a fabric of their own.
Travelers have gone far and wide to track down such wall murals, leading enterprising and knowledgable guides to provide experiences that take you on a deeper dive into the city’s culture and heritage as you hunt for murals.
Georgetown, Penang has had exceptional success with its efforts in urban conservation and telling the story of its culture and heritage through murals. This has earned it a well-deserved UNESCO accreditation.
StraitsJourneys hit the streets of Georgetown, to uncover some of these hidden gems for you.
Pioneers and their stories
Artist Ernest Zacharevic is one of the pioneers invited to etch his interpretations of Georgetown, Penang, to reflect local activities and customs, some of which have become extinct. Murals of this kind bring to life the history of the place.
Other artists such as Julia Volchkova and groups like “Sculpture at Work” have since joined in, preserving fragments of memory, telling the story of Georgetown. Some mobile food businesses have begun to set up shop near relevant murals for a more compelling context.
Step back to take in the artworks in entirety. Do you smile at subtle playfulness in Trishaw Man – which forms the backdrop to a large carpark – where the relaxed subject lords over ‘his’ parked cars? Are your eyes drawn to the louvred windows of the vintage shophouses on which Kungfu Girl is resting her weight? When you look at Boy on the Motorcycle, are you reminded of an illicit adventure you once had as a child?
Long way from the past
Georgetown has come a long way from the days of neglected shophouses, temples and clan associations, and moved towards a path of restoration and rejuvenation that has been recognized by UNESCO. Street art and wall murals played a big part in this restoration story.
StraitsJourneys believes that all cities have value and would love to take you on more of such discovery experiences with our local experts. Stay tuned and we hope to welcome you on our journeys together in 2018.
StraitsJourneys is a place for travelers to find and book deep travel experiences tailored to specific interests. The experiences are presented by carefully selected local experts. We expect to launch in early 2018. In the meantime, register your interest in StraitsJourneys and be the first to receive our stories, updates and offers.