A while back we visited George Town in Penang, and were totally blown away by the city's street art. You can read our articles about it here, here and here. The murals by Ernest Zacharevic are the ones that are most well-known, but did you know that there is also a whole slew of Steel Rod Sculptures depicting the history and culture of the city?
The project Marking George Town Steel Rod Sculptures is a collection of caricatures placed on historic streets of George Town by a local company called Sculpture at Work. The concept presented by the company was to in a fun and easy way relate the history and/or characteristic of selected streets in George Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) using steel rod caricatures by local cartoonists. The reason was to make the history of George Town interesting and easily grasped by visitors and residents, both young and the old.
SCULPTUREATWORK won the design idea competition organized by the Penang State Government in September, 2009. In the company's 13,000 square foot workshop, over 100 sculptors, designers and artists from various departments such as modeling, sculpting, mold making, casting, metal making, wood carving and etc all work together. They naturally work with sculptures, and have done projects all over Malaysia as well as in Singapore and elsewhere in the region. Find out more here.
Not all residents of Penang like these steel rod caricatures, but as an outsider I absolutely loved them! Wouldn't it be wonderful to convey some of the history and culture of old day Hong Kong in the same way? I think so..
One of the complaints voiced are that the caricatures are "too Chinese". Many of the tales are Chinese-centric, seen from a Chinese perspective, perhaps because the cartoonists are Chinese. Even non-Chinese themes are depicted through a Chinese perspective. George Town is truly unique in the sense that it is much more than just a Chinese city, it is a cosmopolitan mix of Malay, Indian, Eurasian, and many other ethnic groups lived there long before the Chinese became the dominant group in the city. So you could argue that the scenes depicted and the form they are in, could be of a more culturally diverse variety. Saying that, Chinese caricatures are better than none at all, at least in my view, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the city seeing them and learning more about the history and culture of Penang.
These Steel Rod Sculptures are made by artists such as Baba Chuah, Lefty, Reggie Lee and Tang Mun Kian.
Here is the map of where these steel rod caricatures can be found.
Below the actual art works (and they are truly stunning, what craftsmanship!) and descriptions:
Images and descriptions above Courtesy Tourism Penang. Learn more here
Many of the sculptures are quite humoristic. Here are some of my own images of favourites from my tour of the streets of Penang. Please don't use without permission.
Our best tip for a both stylish and authentic Penang stay is Campbell House. Read more about this gorgeous boutique hotel in an old shophouse on Campbell Street here
Featured Image Courtesy SCULPTUREATWORK