Mural Arts Lane: Over 7 years old and still evolving, renewing, and inspiring

Mural Arts Lane

Mural Arts Lane

Mural Arts Lane

Please ignore some of the older online guides that state “Mural Arts Lane” is on Panglima Lane. It is true that the “official” old town mural arts project began there but the actual “Arts Lane” is a short distance away. Mural Arts Lane originated earlier, while still forming part of what is more generally known as “Ipoh Mural Arts Trail”.

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Ipoh Mural Arts Trail

The mural art in Ipoh’s old town is based around the vicinity of Panglima Lane. Ernest Zacharevic’s mural work in Georegtown on Penang Island (around 150km north east of Ipoh) inspired the project.  In 2014 Ipoh City Council and the famous Ipoh based company, Old Town White Coffee, commissioned the same Lithuanian artist to paint seven murals.

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In Penang, his work often takes on a three-dimensional aspect that invites the viewer to interact with the art. However, except for the Trishaw, Zacheerevic’s offerings in Ipoh are two-dimensional murals. Nonetheless they are impressive pieces of art that have added considerable cultural kudos to Ipoh’s old town.

You can find out more about Ernest Zacharevic in IpohGo’s feature article about Ipoh’s Murals Arts Trail

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Mural Arts Lane

In this short piece, we will focus on what has become know as Mural Arts Lane. You should note however, that the two terms are often used interchangeably.

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Eric Lai started Mural Arts Lane in Ipoh back in early 2013. It is on Jalan Masjid, just a short walk (around 750 metres over the Kinta river and less than ten minutes on foot) from Concubine Lane. It lies besides Panglima Kinta Mosque, which also welcomes visitors. All the murals are painted on back walls of old heritage houses in the so-called ‘New Town’ of Ipoh.

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The paintings depict and celebrate the diverse cultures of Malaysia from Kuda Kepang Malay dance to the Chinese lion dance and traditional Indian dance; from the Dulang washers searching for tin ore to rubber-tappers collecting the latex from a rubber tree; and from more general life such as children playing hide and seek to locals enjoying one of the nearby waterfalls.

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Who is Eric Lai?

Eric Lai is an Ipoh born and bred local artist and art teacher who, since 2006, runs the Artgene Studio Art School in Bercham, Ipoh. His first mural was on Jalan Masjid in early 2013 and he remains active today. For example, in August 2019, he spent 10 days (8am – 1pm and again 4pm – 7pm) using weather-proof paint to complete his unity-themed mural on a shophouse wall at Jalan Sultan Yusaf (end of Jalan Panglima).

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This mural shows three uncles of different races selling their beverages: the Malay pakcik (uncle) trading his cendol dessert drink, Chinese uncle hawking his sugar cane drink, and coconut water vended by an Indian uncle.

New Mural Arts IpohGo

Blowing Bubbles: Old and New

Just four months later he returned to Mural Arts Lane to repaint a faded mural. On the eve of 2020, he wrote on his Facebook:

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“今天是2019年最后一天,我修复了我一幅我非常喜爱的壁画。希望能继续喜爱到明年或者到永远。祝大家像小孩一样无虑无忧过日子。新年快乐。”

which translate as “Today is the last day of 2019 and I fixed one of my favourite murals [On Murals Arts Lane]. Hope to continue to love until next year or forever. I wish everyone to live without worries like children. Happy new year.”

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The original ‘Blowing Bubbles’ mural.

Mural Arts Lane Kids Blowing Bubbles Jan 2020

The new ‘Blowing Bubbles’ mural

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Mural Arts Lane

Mural Arts Lane is not a static attraction. Paintings come and go. It is an area that is continually in a state of cultural transformation and flux. Other artists also contribute; some of whom are Eric Lai’s students. We have included some selected photos of the murals, past and present, in this article. However, when in Ipoh, make sure you check the place out yourself as photos do not do justice to this impressive collection of murals.

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