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13 Nov 2013

Penang Street Art -Brother and Sister on a Swing, Penang

Penang [檳城] • 13 NOVEMBER 2013
Street art is any art developed in public spaces. The term can include traditional graffiti art work, as well as, stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art, video projection, art intervention, guerrilla art, flash mobbing and street installations.

Whereas traditional graffiti artists have primarily used free-hand aerosol paints to produce their works with ‘tagging’ and text-based subject, street art encompasses many other media, techniques and subject matter including: LED art, mosaic tiling (e.g. Space Invader), murals, stencil art (e.g. Hutch and Blek Le Rat), sticker art, street installations (e.g K-GUY), wheatpasting (e.g. Faile and Prefab77), woodblocking, video projection, and yarn bombing.Street artists will often work in studios, hold gallery exhibitions or work in other creative areas: they are not anti-art, they simply enjoy the freedom of working in public without having to worry about what other people think. 

Where It Started 
When Kuala Lumpur-based art company, Sculpture at Work won the rights to the state government’s commissioned art challenge ‘Marking George Town: An Idea Competition for UNESCO World Heritage Site’ in 2009, Sculpture’s creative director Tang Mun Kian knew this was the start of the largest art assignment in the state. ‘Usually, a client would come to us with a brief saying, “we have this space, can you propose something?” But Marking George Town’s brief was more a matter of: “we have this city, what can you do with it?” We got quite excited since we haven’t done anything like this and not at this scale.’

Today, Sculpture at Work has hung all 52 commissioned steel rod caricatures. With a mammoth batch of caricatures to create, their team head to the streets and plucked their inspiration from lively Penangites going about their daily chores and their personalities.

‘The streets of George Town were named after the trades, people and events, which means every street has its own unique story. With the rising rental, many of the original inhabitants moved out and with them, the stories as well,’ Tang discovers. ‘So, the idea is to put the stories back into the city,’ he adds. Within the confines of their workshop, every single steel diorama was bent and shaped to bring stories and inspiration to life. ‘The (Penang) weather is not a problem. The only time we were outdoors is when we had to do research, site recce, taking photos and installations,’ he recalls.

For Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic who spent most of his hours outdoors, the island weather hasn’t been as kind. ‘Of course, it gets hot but it is easy to work around it,’ Ernest says. ‘Either early morning or at night, or overcast days or after the rain, it’s much easier (to work here) than in winter conditions back in Europe,’ he explains his ‘open air workstation’.

Penang-based Ernest’s mischievousness comes through in his interactive murals. Prior to the fame that followed his contribution in Mirrors George Town for George Town Festival 2012 (GTF 2012), he painted on a number of walls around the city. This includes one of an old wooden clog painter on the wall of Armenian Art Café in Armenian Street as well as a red heart split into two by phone booths at Love Lane.

Admittedly, the Penang crowd wasn’t as responsive – or even noticed – his first mural in Love Lane. ‘The first mural was way back in 2011. It was a portrait of an Indian woman. ‘It was painted within a few days, so not a lot of people had seen it but a video is still available on my website and Ownly Penang. People’s response wasn’t so positive back then, but later on people took a closer look and learned to appreciate public art,’ he says.

He has since added eight more murals during GTF 2012. The John Lennon of the batch, so to speak, is on Armenian Street of two cheery children riding on a bicycle. ‘My main inspiration was an overwhelming fascination with George Town and its inhabitants. Well, inspiration always comes from a fascination with something new and an urge to explore it,’ he declares. Street Art In Penang

Chulia Street Penang ( Lebuh Chulia ) cuts through the centre of Chinatown in the heart of the old part of Georgetown on Penang Island and has been for decades the place where backpackers head to first when they arrive in Penang Island, offering cheap Penang accommodation, with dozens of budget guesthouses and hostels along its path in in the surrounding roads like Love Lane and Muntri Street

Chulia Street caters for all your travellers needs
Here you will find places to rent motorbikes, rent bicycles, internet shops, change your foreign currency at one of the many money changers that also act as book exchange shops, travel agents selling bus tickets and flights to all destinations in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and beyond. Air Asia's ticket office is also here. You can also apply for a range of visa's, the most popular being a Thai Visa, saving you the time and effort of going to the Thai embassy yourself ( at a rather high fee )
You name it, and Chulia street will have it

How to get to Chulia Street from the Ferry / Jetty
If you arrive by the Butterworth to Penang Ferry then its is just a short 5 -10 minute walk away. 
When you come out of the ferry terminal and walk to the main road, the start of Chulia Street can be seen just 100 metres or so to your left by the traffic lights. Here it is called Gat Lebuh Chulia. Walk along here, past the edge of Little India until you see a set of traffic lights and a large Mosque on your left. This is where the real Chulia Street starts.

If you don't want to walk you can catch the 101 bus which departs from the bus station just outside the ferry terminal on your left. It leaves every 7 minutes so you wont have to wait long and costs RM1.20

Alternatively, you can catch on of George Town's "Freecat" buses from just in front of the bus station. Get off at the museum, then walk up the road and turn left onto Love Lane, then onto Chulia Street

A taxi is another option you will find the taxi drivers all waiting for you as you come to the end of the ferry walkway. They will not use their meter, but it should cost around RM10

Steel rod sculpture

George Town Steel Rod Sculptures is a collection of caricatures placed on historic streets of George Town by the Kuala Lumpur-based company, Sculpture at Work. The company on 29 March, 2010, won the design idea competition organized by the Penang State Government on 7 September, 2009.

The concept presented by Sculpture at Work is to relate the history and/or characteristic of selected streets in George Town using steel rod caricatures of local cartoonists. The reason is to make the history of George Town interesting and easily grasped by visitors and residents, the young and the old.

This newly painted wall mural was reportedly done by a local artist named Louis Gan. Brother and Sister on a Swing depicts two young children, a boy and a girl, standing on a swing. It celebrates the intimacy of sibling relationships, just as Louis has with his brother. It graces the wall of the printing warehouse in an alleyway off Chulia Street Ghaut, in George Town, Penang. 

His claim to social network popularity is his first interactive mural paired with a signage of ‘Step by Step Lane’. Painted at Lebuh Gat Chulia, this lifesize mural features a brother and a sister sharing a cheerful moment on a swing. After which a second mural of two children playing basketball along the same street, followed. Then he welcomed 2013 with his first solo art exhibition titled ‘A Silent Beginning by Louis Gan’, and simultaneously unveiled his newest mural, ‘Nostalgic Meal Order’ on the walls of Penang Entrepreneurs Counselling Society (PECS) Centre on Lorong Kinta.

At 26 years old, Gan excites the local art scene with unexpected and pleasant pieces, so much so, we’re constantly at the edge of our seats when it comes to what’s next from him. Check here for Penang Street Art Brochure


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