The history of George Town is on its walls – the cartoon art made from steel rods scattered through the old part of the city tells the story of the development here. The heritage of George Town is in its buildings, capturing the different communities that have come to this island and brought a slice of home with them.
And the culture of George Town is on the streets, most vibrantly obvious in the food stalls and roadside restaurants that serve up dozens of authentically traditional dishes. The future of George Town is on display in the street art that has appeared in the past few years.
It’s usually hard to put an exact date on the start of a street art scene in a city and George Town, like anywhere else, has had some form of graffiti or artistic expression on walls as far back as anyone can remember. But, unlike most cities, there was a particular time when everything changed. It was the George Town Festival in June 2012.
This was the event when Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic painted eight murals across the city. He had already done a couple in the previous year but they had received very little attention. These new ones, though, they went viral on social media and suddenly every second tourist was posing in front of them for photos.
Suddenly George Town was seen as a street art destination and more artists came to the city to paint their images – and locals joined in as well. The local government and tourism officials encouraged it and street art moved quickly from the subversive into the mainstream.
Some pieces look back fondly on childhood in Penang a generation ago before modern globalization started to creep in. There are also pieces that are more critical, bemoaning the loss of cultural institutions and traditions.
But, regardless, they are an outlet for the creative voices of the younger generation – those who will shape the future of this city. They may have one eye on the past but they are very much looking ahead. And in the art they are painting on the walls, you can see the influence of the advancements that are ahead of us all.
According to Time Travel Turtle