While all attention is focused on the street art on Penang Island, Butterworth has quietly been stepping up its own street art scene with more murals on buildings, especially at the newly opened Butterworth Art Walk.
The project is being undertaken by Think City in collaboration with architect Zaini Zainul along a 400m back alley parallel to Bagan Luar Road. The entrance is just next to the Travel Lodge Hotel, which overlooks the Butterworth padang.
Some half a dozen artists painted the worn out walls of the alley to depict the history of Butterworth especially its largely agricultural origins – paddy fields, coconut and sugar cane plantations, fisheries – in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
One mural depicts a couple of colourful kaleidoscopic elephants: few of the present day generation realise that elephants were once a significant mode of transport for cargo and travellers, and their base was by the beach not far from this alley – hence the name of that area, Kampung Gajah.
The artists who painted the murals include Shazwan Jalil, Syamsul Addenno, Suhaimi Ali, Hadi Ramli, Nazmi Jamarudin, Amir Andha and Azmi Husin.
The Butterworth Art Walk is already drawing in the crowds and tourists, as evident during the recent Raya holidays. Visitors from all walks of life, local, out-of-town and overseas thronged the area, happily posing and snapping away next to the ‘interactive’ murals.
Where previously this was just a nondescript, deserted back alley used only by motorists taking a short cut, today the entire stretch has been revitalised. The initiative has also raised historical awareness of the heritage of Butterworth, while adding pride of place to local residents.
More murals – up to four dozen in all – are expected to be added in July in the lead-up to the Butterworth Fringe Festival in mid-August. Well done to all those responsible for this initiative.