Something has happened to George Town, the main city of Penang.
Once a city that was all about business and trade, George Town has taken to street art to brighten the city up, and to add lots of humour to its once dowdy streets.
This penchant for adorning walls with art and information stems from the 2012 George Town Festival when artists were invited to brighten up the walls with whimsical art. This is definitely not graffiti, but dedicated and very interesting art.
As well as artists putting their own creations on the walls, the city administrators decided to commission wrought-iron caricatures with anecdotal descriptions of the streets upon which they are placed.
As a result, practically everywhere you go, you can learn, in a very succinct and humorous manner, the history of the street you are visiting.
There are dozens of these placed all over the city. One of these even occupies the wall of the shoe shop where famed designer Jimmy Choo began his apprenticeship.
Kimberley Street features a wrought-iron depiction of a hawker’s stall with a description that informs us that some of these stalls have passed through the generations to be operated as family businesses.
On the old gaol building is the caricature of an escaping prisoner. Muntri Street was a place that had a reputation for being the street where husbands housed their mistresses. Also called Love Lane, it features a rather corpulent gent in little garb making a quick escape out the window of a house.
Then there are the artworks, those that have been painted on walls.
There are dozens of them which can be found all over George Town. Some are very lifelike, whilst others are somewhat cartoonish, but all have been painted with a sense of fun or purpose.
These artworks add to an already interesting area.
It is fun to walk around the narrow, busy street of Chinatown. You can easily imagine what it must have been like during the days of the British when the town was bustling with British administrators trying to maintain their quaint British culture within the heat and humidity of the town. The rich Chinese merchants doing deals and accumulating wealth with which they built ornate mansions. Then there were the workers, who slaved away loading and unloading ships and transporting goods to warehouses and shops around the town.
All of that activity is now captured on the walls of George Town and the magnificent art works help to preserve the rich history of a town that has now fully embraced the 21st century.