Instagrammers, get ready — Penang’s street art scene just got more epic

Penang takes its art scene to new heights with massive art installations at the inaugural Penang International Container Art Festival (PICAF). Here’s what to expect.

PICAF 2020
  • Cheong Kamei
  • January 2020

The idea to use 12-metre shipping containers as an enormous canvas for artists to work their magic might seem like a clever gimmick to bait selfie-hungry tourists but PICAF 2020 was designed to be more than a great shot for the ’gram. Themed “Penang’s Local Identities”, the container art installations by 12 artists in five locations tell rich visual stories of local communities.

The Joy Of Harvest at Kampung Terang, Balik Pulau

The Joy Of Harvest at Kampung Terang, Balik Pulau
The three-storey high art work set against the dramatic backdrop of the wide open sky and rice fields pays homage to the local community of farmers.

Balik Pulau is the most remote location out of the five installations but this mural gives you the perfect reason to experience a side of Penang you probably didn’t know existed. The scenic countryside is home to rice, durian and nutmeg farms — many of which, have been family-run businesses for generations.

Hope for the Future at Karpal Singh Drive, Jelutong

Hope for the Future is by Russian artist Julia Volchkova who is also responsible for famous street art murals in Penang like Indian Boatman in George Town.

This art installation depicts a girl building her dream city with her old toy blocks while looking over the Karpal Singh Drive. While you’re there, take a leisurely stroll along the water promenade.

The Trishaw Ride at Prangin Mall, George Town

The Trishaw Ride at Prangin Mall, George Town
The Trishaw Ride is by Ukranian artist Sasha Korban.

George Town might have transformed from a sleepy town to hipster haven over the years but visible signs of its rich heritage still exist. This mural celebrates Penang’s living heritage through a detailed depiction of a local trishaw rider who makes a living today by ferrying tourists.

The other container art installations can be found at Dataran Pemuda Merdeka in Butterworth and Aspen Vision City in Batu Kawan. PICAF 2020 is free and ongoing till end of May 2020.