Penang’s unique street art immortalised in a book

By Opalyn Mok , Malay Mail Online

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 5 — Four years after Ernest Zacherevic was commissioned to paint some murals around the Heritage Zone as part of George Town Festival 2012, people are still lining up in front of them and snapping pictures.

More importantly, Zacharevic started a street art craze that has spread way beyond George Town.

More wall murals, sculptures and installations were introduced over the years and all of these have been documented in a book by retired teacher Mike Gibby.

The author first moved to Penang in 2011 when he first came across some of Zacharevic’s earlier works.

Fascinated by the murals, he began photographing the young Lithuanian’s works as he completed them.

He believes he arrived in Penang at the perfect time just when the street art scene started to flourish and grow.

“As I was photographing Ernest’s work, I discovered that there were also other types of street art around the island, some painted before Ernest’s murals,” he said.

When he shared some of the pictures of the street art, someone suggested that he write a book and that’s the beginning of the Street Art Penang Style book. It spurred him to start looking for other street art.

“As I did so, my real introduction to both George Town and ‘greater’ Penang began. Quiet back lanes were explored in the hunt for new artworks; turning each corner brought a sense of discovery. A journey around George Town became a glorious treasure hunt,” he said.

He cycled around the island from the Heritage Zone right up to the sleepy town of Balik Pulau on the southern side to photograph every mural, sculpture and installation, including government-funded ones, he could find.

'The Street Art Penang Style Exhibition' in conjunction with George Town Festival 2016 being displayed at Gurney Plaza.

He found works such as Julia Volchkova’s murals, glass sculptures by Fuan Wong and also those by artists such as Baba Chua, Julian ‘Lefty’ Kam, Reggie Lee, Tang Mun Kian, Louis Gan, Simon Tan, Vexta, Rone, Karl Addison, Martin Whatson, Don John, Tom Powell, Bibi Chun, Takayuki Miyazono, Encik Osman, Kikuchi Mitsuo, Mukai Katsumi, Hitori Nakayama, Heng Eow Lin, Femke Ligthart, Tai Kai Sheuan and many more.

“I got to meet with some of these artists so a brief profile of some of them are also featured in my book,” he said.

There are also smaller works that were hidden in small alleyways and lesser known works by anonymous artists.

'The Street Art Penang Style exhibition', sponsored by Gurney Plaza, is held in conjunction with George Town Festival.

There are 400 street art featured in the 300-page book that is sponsored by Holiday Tours and published by Entrepot Publishing Sdn Bhd.

Excerpts of the book are also now being displayed in two Street Art Penang Style exhibitions at Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall as part of George Town Festival 2016.

The exhibitions each feature 30 photographs of the street art in Penang and are supported by the respective malls.

Gibby has previously authored two other books, Islands of Malaysia in 1994, and Crowned with the Stars in 2005.

Street Art Penang Style is his third book and he also has an upcoming book, Penang Hill, a journey through time, also published by Entrepot Publishing at the end of this year.

He is currently working on two more books, one historical and another a pictorial.

Street Art Penang Style, which will be launched on August 8, is available at most major bookstores.

Find out more about Entrepot Publishing’s books at and about more GTF events at

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