Ipoh Mural Arts Trail
The Mural Arts Trail in Ipoh’s old town is based around the vicinity of Panglima Lane. Ernest Zacharevic’s mural work in Georgetown on Penang Island (around 150km north west 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.
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.
Old Uncle Drinking Coffee
The first mural on Ipoh’s Mural Arts Trail is the ‘Old Uncle Drinking Coffee’. In keeping with the one of the key commissioners of Ipoh Mural Arts project, this obviously portrays an old uncle drinking coffee. This mural is found adjacent to Padang Ipoh (Ipoh Field), very close to the famous franchise Old Town White Coffee and directly across from Ipoh’s Tourist Information Centre.
Just a short walk down and you will to the Paper Plane Mural. Head north on Jalan Bandar toward Jalan Tun Sambanthan for about 27 metres, turn right onto Jalan Tun Sambanthan and walk a further 75 metres until you come to Jalan Sheikh Adam. Take another right and the Paper Plane will be on your left – look up! It depicts two children enjoying their early and innocent years with a paper plane.
From the paper plane, get back to Jalan Tun Sambanthan (so basically don’t walk down to Jalan Sheikh Adam) and walk about 210 metres and turn right (just after the Upside Down World) and you will see the Kopi ‘O’ mural on the wall facing you. Kopi ‘O’ in Malaysia simply means black coffee with sugar. Just a tip for those who do not like their drinks sweetened. If you want a black coffee without sugar, ask for Kopi ‘O’ Kosong.
If you continue to walk through this car park toward Jalan Panglima, you will come across the mural of the hummingbird. Please ignore Google Maps that does not seem to be aware that this is a car park that pedestrians can walk through and instead guides you around the block following the roads. Sadly, even the Art Trail brochure from the official Tourist Information shop misleads you. It is literally just 50 metres walk through the car park between Kopi ‘O’ and the Hummingbird. This mural depicts a hummingbird (obviously! haha) hovering close by a tree. It is a large mural with a pale blue background.
The next stop on the Ipoh Mural Arts Trail is ‘Evolution’. Once again, this is a short walk. If you are in front of the Hummingbird facing Jalan Panglima (and Kopi ‘O’ 50 metres behind you), simply take a left and walk around 100 metres up Jalan Panglima toward Jalan Bijeh Timah. The mural is at the side of the Ho Yan Hor Museum (Herbal Tea) and facing a car park. Informally this intersection is known as Frens (sic … not a spelling mistake) Corner and is famous for turning into a ‘Snow Beer’ street in the evenings.
This mural differs slightly from the rest in that it employs a style that lends a nod to traditional Chinese ink painting. It represents the history of an industry that turned Ipoh from a sleepy village into a once wealthy city – tin mining. It is apposite that this mural should be at the side of a series of heritage buildings, one of which houses the fantastic Han Chin Pet Soo museum.
This museum documents and portrays Ipoh’s tin mining legacy alongside the associated social and economic history as well as the Hakka (and more general Chinese) diaspora. It is absolutely a must visit.
This is where the Mural Arts Trail gets a little confusing. According to the official trail literature (which has not been updated), there is supposed to be a three-dimensional mural of a young girl stood on a stool reaching up to a birdcage. Unfortunately, this has gone.
In October 2017, the owner of the building painted over the mural. Philistine? We will let you make your own judgement there. But the artist, Ernest Zacharevic said “Whenever I paint someone’s building we have an agreement that the building owner is welcome to remove the art if it offends someone, disturbs their business or simply fades to the point where they find it no longer appealing…..The temporary nature of street art is a part of its charm. It is common for art in the streets to be removed, damaged or simply fade away.” (Quoted in MalayMail)
So, the 6th (not seventh) and final Ipoh mural by Ernest Zacharevic is the Trishaw. Given that you can skip the walk to the now non-existent ‘Girl’, you can head straight on to the Trishaw from Evolution. Simply walk up Jalan Bijeh Timah, past Han Chin Pet Soo museum (make sure you visit here during your trip), for around 140 metres and on the corner of Jalan Market you will find the Trishaw mural with an old uncle loading rubbish bags onto his cart. This is the only remaining three-dimensional mural by Ernest Zacharevic in Ipoh. Viewers can interact with this art as there is a real trishaw attached to the wall.
The Final Part of the Mural Arts Trail
From the Trishaw you can now just take a seven minutes’ walk to Mural Arts Lane. Turn right from Jalan Market onto Jalan Bijeh Timah. From there walk to up to Jalan Sultan Iskandar and turn left. Continue to walk up Jalan Sultan Iskandar, across the Kinta River until Jalan Laxamana and take a right. The Murals Arts Lane is on your left on Jalan Masjid. For more details see Ipoh Go’s Guide to Mural Arts Lane.