Sculpturing Penang’s public spaces

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Attempts to position Penang in the world have often been about food and festivals, shopping and beaches. While valid, these have their limits. Something new that promises to draw art enthusiasts is the Penang Sculpture Trail. Inspired by the 1992–94 Tachikawa Art Map, a series of sculptures by world famous sculptors exhibited all over Tachikawa Prefecture in Japan, Japanese artist Hitori Nakayama thought something similar should be done in his adopted home, Penang. With help from Datuk Tang Hon Yin, his project is now moving. World-class sculptures will be dotting Penang’s public spaces soon.

A squat oval marble sculpture on a circular pedestal sits forlornly at the edge of the paved estuary dominated by The Garage entertainment centre. Many people pass it by without batting an eyelid, or stopping for a breather or to take pictures beside it.

Is it because Penang people are becoming blasé or are they too busy? But then again, it may point to the success of the scuplture: of having blended inconspicuously and naturally into the changing topography and profile of an ever bustling Upper Penang Road.

The work, Under a Penang Sky, by Japanese Kikuchi Mitsuo, is officially the first of 50 proposed public sculptures included in the Penang Sculpture Trail project.


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