Penang comes alive with art

Feast your senses: Digital artist Benjamin Lam explaining his creations to a visitor, while Sada Borneo entertains guests during the opening ceremony of the George Town Festival at Hin Bus Depot. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is reverberating with the George Town Festival (GTF) which offers over 80 programmes, with most of them open for free to the public.

Visitors will be treated to an exhilarating mix of visual arts, theatre, music, dance, film and photography events at various venues until July 24.

Paid performances are expected to be 30% to 50% cheaper compared to similar events elsewhere.

At the official opening of the festival at the Hin Bus Depot art centre yesterday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said with the festival back in full swing, there will be much to look forward to over the next 16 days.

“We expect at least 50,000 people to attend the various shows and programmes during the festival.

“With more than 80 exciting programmes on offer, I am certain the celebration will be a hit as many have been looking forward to physical events after two years,” he said.

Among the events showcased at the opening was the “Cahaya XR: First Edition”, offering snippets into aspects of Penang through virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

Featuring works from three projects that showcase different aspects of Penang’s history, heritage and culture, the exhibition lets visitors immerse themselves in virtual and augmented reality.

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Cahaya XR arts and culture producer Luvenia Kalia said the exhibition was grounded in local stories.

“It is part of a mentorship programme by a digital company to show how technology does not replace but rather preserve arts, culture and heritage via digital stories.

“The three exhibitions include one that features the memory of the old Penang ferries where the artist interviewed people who shared their personal memories of using the ferry.

“Another is based on the Peranakan culture in Penang, with research done into the heritage and food.

“The third is a re-creation of Penang with an audio of the people’s opinion of the state,” she said when met at Hin Bus Depot.

The full “Cahaya XR: First Edition” exhibition will be held at Whiteaways Arcade along Beach Street from July 13 to 17.

Another installation for GTF is “Tujuh” (Seven) at the depot, which boasts works from seven Penang-based artists, each providing seven pieces, said art curator Ivan Gabriel.

“We have a mix media of art which include oil, paper-cut, water colour, sculptures, resin work, and digital and light installations.

“The themes vary from the seven deadly sins, everyday ideas, personal narratives, resilience and hope, especially with what they have faced as local artists during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Early yesterday, a group of participants were taken on a French Heritage Trail organised by the Penang Tourist Guides Association and Le French Film Festival.

Participants were treated to an insight into the history of the French in Penang and taken on a tour of the Church of the Assumption, and Convent Light Street, among others.

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