The wrought-iron caricatures found throughout the George Town streets add another wonderful layer to the vibrant street art scene in the city.
The collection is known as Marking George Town and began in 2009 as a competition to brand the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The winner was the local company Sculpture At Work. They named the concept “Voices from the People”.
Today, 52 iron illustrations, the work of local cartoonists, dot the historic streets, each one giving a bit of history in a humorous fashion.
There have been some complaints that the works are too Chinese-centric. I think they do make a point. The city has a rich ethnic origin. The area is currently mainly made up people of Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage, but its history shows a wide multiracial populace from all over Asia and even Europe. Because of this, you will hear several languages spoken in the city.
It certainly made learning my polite words that much trickier, as well as which one to use with any given person! Luckily the Malaysian people are friendly and patient, and my efforts were usually returned with a smile. Or sometimes a look of polite confusion.
The iron sculptures are caricatures created from wrought iron. They are whimsical excerpts of the city’s rich cultural history. A caption in cursive offers tidbits of history to the wandering traveler, and it’s a brilliant way to learn about the neighbourhoods that make up the colourful city of George Town. Written in English, they are clearly aimed at tourists, and have become another popular bit of eye candy in an urban landscape filled with art.
What do you think of them? Do you prefer the murals or the iron sculptures?
If you like this story, please pin or share it! For more about George Town, Penang’s outdoor art scene, check out this post.