We landed at Penang at about 9.30 morning. As the check -in time of hotel was 2 P.M. we had already decided that after having light breakfast we would directly be going to explore the town.

In the flight my next seat neighbor was a lady in her business suit, a professor who was going to attend some professional workshop at Penang university. In fact I had noticed her in the airport too, as besides me she was the only lady there with a red bindi on her forehead. In the flight she was seated next to me and we fell into easy chatting exchanging pleasantries and other tit bits. She was from Sri Lanka but told me that she was born in India. The gentleman accompanying her, her colleague, belonged to Kumbhkonam and that gave us common grounds of communication. After a pleasant flight we were ready to enjoy the island in an upbeat mood.

We directed our Grab driver to drop us at Armanian street as we wanted to enjoy the street art of Penang first of all. We had read that penang street art is one of the major tourist attraction. The few pics we came across on net has already fueled our imagination and we were eager to see the wonderful initiative taken by Penang municipal corporation.

Georgetown in Penang has an impressive history, art and culture to boast of. In 2008 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site and this led to the vision of Penang state government and Penang Municipal council to give it a unique identity. Thus began the modern history of Penang Island. Murals, sculptures from iron, 3D paintings on the streets of Penang is now defining the character of the island.

State authorities invited Luthenian  artist Ernest Zachirevic to make alive the street walls of Penang with painting reflecting the daily life of the inhabitants of the place. Later on other renowned names joined in the project. Presently scattered all over the streets of Penang are many art works expressing various ideas, thoughts and art forms of different artists, known and unknown.There are paintings, 3D and 2D paintings using real articles with painted figures and are iron rod sculptures.

While roaming from street to street we also came across a covered gallery kind of place which was full of wall paintings and a poster there invited random people with any beautiful idea to come forward, share their ideas with concerned people and if accepted , to take the paints, colours from authority and create their own master pieces on the walls of Penang.

Though we tried to cover as much art displays as possible yet we know we could not cover it all.

Let me share few of the wonderful pieces with you.



Random writings on the wall might not be termed as a great piece of art but they sure bring smiles to you.


An Indian lady in saree with head covered in traditional Indian way — Indians are an important part of Malaysian history. She looked solemn, a tad sad too perhaps. I wanted to add smiles.


yes, I am there and happy too. This entire wall full of vibrant flowers and that cat face in between– interesting , isn’t it ! this filled the area with light.


cats as subject of street art are seen at a number of places, but why cats ? Don’t know the idea, thought behind that but came to know about another CAT- central area transit, the free shuttle but that runs through the streets of Penang. This bus service was launched in 2009. It seems in 2008 another CAT concept was introduced by Penang government, governance based on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.



These street art pieces made by  wrought iron rods are also found in good number in Penang streets. This one too perhaps has a thought of preserving the earlier ways of life in the island. A man carrying some two vessels hung from a rod on his shoulder. I remember from my childhood the street hawkers in my home town here in India carrying two earthen pots on his shoulder in the similar fashion. They used to sell curd and buttermilk etc.


This is another example of wrought iron caricatures and words explaining the thought behind it.  It definitely needs time to grasp the full meaning and reference behind each of these art pieces.



This was a wall size painting of the face of girl/ woman. It was so alive, the sadness really palpable. Shhhhhhhh, don’t bare your pains to strangers……….


What better way to hoodwink a watching eye than to hold a position above it…


Trying to share the untold stories of longings, pains and the memories of those left behind.

Thoughtful street art is like good fiction. every graffiti has it’s own story and every individual interprets in his own way.



Waiting for the one on the other side of the window..


This is one among the most popular and famous art pieces- The boy riding the actual bike. Come on boy, drive on, you have to just drop me few blocks away. i am not going to hijack your bike.

There are many captures of the street art of Penang but I would talk about that in next piece.


The quintessential cycle rickshaws of Penang. Each of these was decorated with vibrant colour flowers and added their own bit to make the streets attractive.


All the pictures@ Sunder Iyer