Old Penang Street Art? Yes, there is, of course. Few places in Malaysia have a more interesting, multi-faceted history than Penang. It’s not a case then that even many murals among Penang street art celebrate that multi-ethnic historical legacy.
Truth be told, Penang’s history and old-world charms were also the main focus of the original Penang murals that Ernest Zacharevic etched for the George Town Festival in 2012, kick-starting the whole Penang street art phenomenon. These days, every tourist in George Town loves a tour of the street art; it’s something we highly recommend to families with children — read also our list of 32 Awesome Things to Do in Penang with Kids. To read more, check out these books on street art around the world.
We have to thank our photographer friend Bertrand Linet, who walked all over George Town to snap every piece of street art, wall art, mural paintings, and installations. In our third collection, we showcase 24 Penang murals that re-interpret Penang past, ancient trades, and old-world traditions. It’s a tribute to Penang heritage through art.
Penang Street Art: Murals of Old Penang Trades
1Becak Rider takes a Rest
(image credit: Bertrand Linet)
Found along Penang Road, this mural by Ernest Zacharevic occupies a big facade overlooking Red Garden’s parking lot.
2Happy Chinese Gods
The Chinese Gods are etched about 30mt from the entrance of Cannon Square.
The giant steamboat is in Kinta lane, just about 200mt from MacAlister Road.
4Penang God of Mercy Temple
Unfortunately, this artistic rendition of the God of Mercy Temple in Pitt Street doesn’t exist anymore. It was etched before Bonjour Madame, on Prangin Road Ghaut.
5Old Penang Coffeshop Style
This very realistic 3D painting celebrating the art of Penang Chinese coffeemaking can be found inside the coffee shop on the corner of Armenian and Victoria street.
6Learn to Speak Penang Hokkien
On Armenian Street, this mural remembers passers-by to learn Hokkien, the language of the local Chinese community.
7A Funny Secret and Old Penang Lift
Now erased, this trio of murals stood on the side of a shophouse in Kinta Street… and now, no more. We wonder why…
8Penang Balik Pulau Fisherman
In Balik Pulau town, this is one of the realistic murals by Julia Volchkova that re-branded the main street.
And always in Balik Pulau town, Julia Volchkova gave her own view of Silat, Malay traditional martial art.
10The Happy People of the Clan Jetties
At the entrance of Lim Jetty, this mural celebrates the communities of Chinese migrants who built their homes over stilts to avoid paying land tax to the British colonizers.
11Indian Boat Rower
Julia Volchkova, again. This Indian boatman in traditional garb floats at the upper corner of Klang street, at the corner with Muntri Street… one very touristic spot in town.
12The 36 Heavenly Generals
The Guardians of Chinese Heaven float on the wall of a temple found at the intersection of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and Cecil street.
13Peranakan Lady on a Swing
This cheeky Peranakan lady, now erased, swung dreamily only 50mt before the entrance of Canon Square.
14Ethnic Girls in Traditional Clothes
In Armenian street, a long-standing and popular mural celebrating the beauty of Penang’s multi-ethnic women and their colourful dresses.
15Stealing a Bao
This mural art with bike installation celebrates old world Pao sellers from the wall of the Ming Xiang Tai pastry shop, on the corner of Armenian and Victoria street.
16Old Penang Soy Milk Seller
Soy milk sold the old world way, emblazoned on a wall in Chulia Street, right across from the Container Hotel.
17The Giant Pao Sellers
Giant Pao sellers are painted on the wall of Ban Heang Cafe’, on Penang Road, at the corner with Campbell Street, and right next to the metallic Chinese archway.
18Chinese General Monkey
The general is inside of China House, sketched by Thomas Powell.
19Old Penang Chinese Girls
These beautifully attired old-world Chinese ladies walk on a wall in Magazine Road, where it intersects with Carnarvon street.
20Wan Than Mee Seller
Peddling noodles on a bicycle-rickshaw-shop in Malacca street, the ancient way…
21The Charcoal Burning Girl
Another artwork in 20m from entrance Canon Square. Charcoal burning was the norm in Penang. You can still see it used in some places, such as Toh Soon cafe’ when making roti bakar.
22Old Penang Roti Seller
The Old Penang Roti seller hangs out on a wall in a small alley perpendicular to Armenian street… check it out.
23Nasi Kandar Seller
A beautiful old-world nasi kandar seller (“kandar” means the pole these sellers used to lug around their pots of rice) can be found on the wall of famous Moh Teng Peow Nyonya Koay & Canteen.
24Nasi Kandar Seller shuttling the pole
And this is another nasi kandar seller found at Moh Teng Peow Nyonya Koay & Canteen.