Spray can cities: Uncover Malaysia’s street art scene

Jul 01,2015

Malaysia’s colourful temples and ornately decorated mosques might reveal the country’s rich artistic history, but more recently, it’s commissioned public art projects and new-generation galleries that are showcasing the nation’s creative talent.

After settling into your Millennium Hotels and Resorts accommodation, take a tour through Kuala Lumpur and Penang’s George Town, where city walls and quirky coffee shops have been transformed into alternative exhibition spaces.

An interactive work by Ernest Zacharevic. Photo by Helen Alexander

Photo opportunities on every corner

Walking through George Town on the island of Penang is like walking through a living gallery. If you can’t make it to the city’s annual arts and culture festival in August, there are still plenty of arty attractions to see year-round. George Town features three distinct public art projects and Google has helpfully put together a map of the city’s top street art sites, so you can set off on your own tailor-made tour.

To learn more about the island’s heritage, check out the ‘Marking George Town’ art initiative, which is made up of 52 wall-mounted iron structures found in public spaces throughout the city. These installations provide information about the history of the street they’re located on and are an interesting way to discover more about Penang. Cat lovers will also fall for the charms of ‘101 Lost Kittens’, which is a street art project comprised of 12 larger-than-life feline murals. The oversized works aim to raise awareness about the city’s stray animals. Then there’s the interactive pieces by Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist who cleverly combines street art with everyday objects – bicycles, chairs, rickshaws and scooters – to create a series of picture-perfect tributes to old-school Malaysia. The scenes can be found throughout the city and invite posing, so have your smartphone at the ready.

One of six pieces dotted around Kuala Lumpur to mark last year's Malaysia Day. Photo by Helen Alexander.

Making Malaysia proud

The paint has just dried on Kuala Lumpur’s latest large-scale artworks – a collection of six pieces on display in locations across the capital. The works were commissioned for last year’s Malaysia Day, which marks the establishment of the country on 16 September, 1963. Created in collaboration with 15 local street artists (including the internationally acclaimed Cloakwork, otherwise known as Loo Lok Chern), images of the pieces are shared online with the hashtag #tanahairku, which means ‘My homeland’. Head to Raja Chulan to see a wall in a disused car park that has been sprayed with a two-storey-high image of two youths playing in front of a traditional kampung (village) house.

Located close to the luxury shopping malls of Bukit Bintang, Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur has recently upgraded its facilities, making its hotel rooms an even more perfect base from which to uncover the city’s street art gems.

Aku Cafe & Gallery

Combine coffee and creativity

While you’re staying in either of these two cities, get your creative juices flowing with a cup of coffee.

Home to 14 unique eating, drinking and exhibition spaces, not to mention a theatre, China House in George Town runs the length of a block – between Beach and Victoria Streets – and you might just find yourself staying for dinner and cocktails.

While in KL, Aku Cafe & Gallery serves hand-brewed single-origin siphon coffees alongside regularly changing art exhibitions. Situated on Jalan Panggong, its leafy balcony offers a serene respite from the hustle and bustle of nearby Chinatown.

However, for real tranquility, make for the Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang. Less than 10km from George Town, it’s the perfect getaway hotel that combines city living with the seaside, thanks to its location on the secluded Tanjung Bungah (Flower Cape) beach. If you’re craving some action, the frenetic Batu Ferringhi night market is just a sandy stroll away from the Copthorne Orchid’s luxury hotel rooms.

For best hotel deals, visit Millennium Hotels and Resorts.


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