Drawn towards a unique type of cargo


The painted container featuring a trishaw rider outside Prangin Mall.

THE Penang International Container Art Festival (Picaf) is the latest attraction highlighting 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, the festival is happening 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.

The project involves 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, while Abdulrashade (Penang) and Andharas (Melaka), as well as Leonard Siaw and Jagung (both Sarawak) are collaborating in pairs.

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

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

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

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 at a press conference.

Tan Chor Whye, founder of festival organiser Can Can Public Art PLT, suggested that those checking out the installation in George Town could also search 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 padi fields, orchards, villages and more.

On the mainland, the Butterworth Art Walk is just a stone’s throw 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.

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