Mirrors George Town is a series of murals painted on various street walls of Penang by a talented Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic. Some of these artworks include larger than life portraits as well as 3D incorporated murals. Ernest was commissioned by the Penang Island Municipal Council to create the Mirrors George Town series in conjunction with the 2012 George Town Festival Celebration. George Town is the capital of Penang Island, which has also been inscribed as a World Heritage Site.
Besides attracting more visitors/tourists to the island to check out these interesting murals, they have transformed the otherwise normal streets of Penang into lively, whimsical and vibrant streets in town.
There are about nine murals in total and to access these sites, you can choose to follow a walking trail or cycle. I've personally discovered these murals on foot in 2012 and revisited in 2013 with friends on bicycle. Both ways are equally enjoyable but perhaps walking would allow you to explore more shops along the way and you won't have the stress of handling the hectic traffic in Penang. I'm not sure what the official names for the murals are but I reckon they are pretty much up to visitors' interpretation.
Little Children on a Bicylce mural @ Armenian Street
In Armenian Street, there are two interesting murals. The first one is a painting of a little girl riding a bicycle with a cheeky pillion rider. It incorporated an old bicycle that was mounted to the wall. I've seen many visitors posing with different expressions here. Some were seen as if they were pulling the bicycle from the back, while the more dramatic ones were trying to "stop" the bicycle from the front. This is one of my favorite murals.
The second mural in Armenian Street is a larger than life portrait of Uncle Ng, who is a clog maker and also the next door neighbor of the artist, who happened to fit the character which Ernest was looking for. This mural seems to have faded on my second visit in 2013 due to the weather conditions, wear and tear is imminent.
Moving on to Ah Quee Street is another interesting piece of art. An old motorbike was installed on a wall and an unused door with a painting of a boy seated on the bike. The boy looks a little too young to be riding a bike but nonetheless, the whole creation just seem to fit the setting of the old building. This mural has certainly drawn curiosity and interest among motorists as well as tourists. Most of them make a quick stop to snap photos and off they go again. Another favorite for me.
In one of the old buildings at Muntri Street lies another giant mural of a girl in blue trying to lift herself up with both hands on the window. When I saw this mural, it looked like the girl is dressed in a kung fu suit and practising her moves. Ernest is definitely a great artist with an eye for details, even the shadow was carefully painted. A friend told me that this mural was based on a real photograph of a little girl dressed in blue and pushing herself up with both hands on the tables.
I was fascinated by an interesting mural of a boy standing on a real chair placed next to the painting. The boy is seemingly trying to reach out for a tiny window. I love this piece of art because it got me laughing hard looking at the antics of visitors who posed for photos with their hands on the boy's buttocks trying to look as if they were pushing the boy up to reach the window. In fact, it is so popular that I had to wait for 15 minutes before I could quickly take a shot of this mural without anyone there.
Trishaws or cycle rickshaws used to be a popular means of transport in the olden days of Penang. Today, you can still them on the streets but mainly as tourist attractions. They're no longer used by the locals these days. Most of the time, trishaw passengers are foreign tourists. Inspired by trishaw and the paddlers, Ernest painted an enormous mural of a trishaw paddler resting in his trishaw on the wall of a building in Penang Road.
Based on an original photograph, the mural at Chew Jetty was painted on a wooden stilt house depicting a boy and a girl playing in a boat alongside a black cat. The photo above was taken in 2012 but my recent visit in early 2013 was disappointing as this mural is now a memory. Due to wear and tear, the paint has peeled off from the wood. However, I was told that a new painting has replaced it very recently.
Broken Hearted Phonebooth @ Love Lane
Lastly, a painting of a broken heart on two phone booths in Love Lane. According to folklore, the lane got its name from some rich men who kept their mistresses here a long time ago.
Mirrors George Town is definitely recommended for visitors to Penang. I enjoyed my time in both visits and wouldn't mind doing it again next year. By then, who knows? There may be new murals to discover. It is advisable to start the exploration early, preferably before noon, if you want to avoid the afternoon heat and sun.