Container installations breathe new life to urban art in Penang

The painted container featuring a trishaw rider outside Prangin Mall.

THE Penang International Container Art Festival (Picaf) is the latest attraction to the state’s vibrant art scene and the Experience Penang Year 2020.

Said to be the first in Asia to feature urban art on container installations, it is taking shape at five locations across the island and mainland.

One cannot miss them at Prangin Mall in George Town, Karpal Singh Drive in Jelutong, Kampung Terang in Balik Pulau, Dataran Pemuda Merdeka in Butterworth and Aspen Vision City in Batu Kawan.

Involved are seven Malaysian and five international artists. Each installation will feature the work of local talents on one side, and their foreign counterparts on the other.

Kenji Chai (Sabah), Bibichun (Penang) and Caryn Koh (Kuala Lumpur) are working solo, with Abdulrashade (Penang) and Andharas (Malacca), as well as Leonard Siaw and Jagung (both Sarawak) collaborating as pairs.

Joining them are Emmanuel Jarus (Canada), Julia Volchkova (Russia), Marat Danilyan (Russia), Sasha Korban (Ukraine) and Judith de Leeuw (the Netherlands).

The artists spent time exploring areas around the respective sites, and will produce artworks depicting relevant subject matter, in line with the ‘Penang’s Local Identities’ theme.

Prep work started in early December, with the installations expected to be complete by early this month. It will be displayed at the respective sites until the end of May 2020.

State tourism, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin believes that having the installations at five different locations will help rejuvenate the surrounding neighbourhoods.

“Visitors are encouraged to explore and discover these interesting places or hidden gems of Penang, besides the popular attractions in town, ” Yeoh said during a recent press conference.

Tan Chor Whye, founder of festival organiser Can Can Public Art PLT, suggested that those checking out the installation in George Town can also hunt for other street art pieces in the heritage enclave.

The Jelutong site is home to other existing landmarks like Celebration of Our Blue Sky (a set of four blue pillars) and Rhythm of Light (musical note sculptures), while in Balik Pulau, one can explore paddy fields, orchards, villages and more.

On the mainland, the Butterworth Art Walk is just a stone’s throw away from the site. In Batu Kawan, one will find a contrasting seafood village and modern shopping centres.

“Art in public spaces can be an effective medium in connecting people to their cities. It is also a platform for cross-cultural interaction and exchange among local and international participants, ” Tan said of Picaf.

Yeoh added, “Penang’s street art scene is now a key tourism product. We believe Picaf will take it to another level and enhance the state’s international reputation as a street art capital.”

The festival is organised with TLM Event as programme partner, and supported by both Yeoh’s office and Penang Global Tourism.

For details and updates, follow Penang International Container Art Festival on Facebook or picafpenang on Instagram.

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