Penang-based British artist, Thomas Powell, is known for the Chinese Zodiac series, in which he joins a representational head of an animal with the body of a human; it quickly became his signature style! Powell prefers to use cultural elements for the human body, though minor changes have been made to certain murals to make them more aesthetically relevant, but his signature style has remained recognisable throughout his work.
The Chinese Zodiac series showcased an artist discovering who he was and in the process, garnering a small but very passionate fanbase. Here are some of our favourites!
1. The Borneo Headhunter with the Head of a Tiger Mural
The Borneo headhunter with the head of a tiger (right) mural makes a great #pictureoftheday photo. This may be the only black and white mural of the Chinese Zodiac series. There are loads of super cute craft stalls, cafes and murals in Hin Bus Depot, too!
Location: Hin Bus Depot, 31A, Jalan Gurdwara
Operating hours: 12pm – 8pm (weekdays), 11am – 8pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
2. The Drippin’ Dragon Mural
This dragon-headed General Guan Yu riding a horse on the wall of the Drippin’ Dragon Hostel in Jalan Hutton was drawn to change the Feng Shui of the lodging. Interestingly, the Drippin’ Dragon Hostel used to be a hospice, where terminally ill patients spent their remaining time. The place had been empty for many years before it was converted into a hostel. Pro tip: The mural is best captured late in the evening for a great #sunset photo.
Location: Drippin’ Dragon Hostel, 32 Jalan Hutton
Contact: +604 261 0416
3. The Monkey-Headed General Guan Yu
A lot of people interpret this mural as the Monkey God guarding the moon gate in China House but for Powell, it’s the General Guan Yu with the head of a monkey. This mural has made China House an Instagram rabbit hole. No filter is required.
Location: China House, 153 & 155 Beach Street
Operating Hours: 9am to 12am (Sundays to Thursdays), 9am to 1am (Fridays to Saturdays)
Contact: +604 263 7299
4. The Prisoner at the Mugshot Cafe
This rat-headed prisoner mural can be found at the Mugshot cafe. Orange prisoner jumpsuit+handcuff +cool tattoos=Kinda bad a@#, isn’t it? The Mugshot Cafe is a pork-free bakery serving fresh coffee, hand-crafted juices, homemade yoghurt, and the best bagels in George Town, perfect for great #nomnomnom shots, too!
Location: Mugshot Cafe, 302 Chulia Street
Operating hours: 8am to 12am daily
Contact: +6012 405 6276
5. The Pig and Ox Bartenders
Nothing shouts #urbanstreetart more than a great photo of the Pig and the Ox bartenders, drawn on the exterior of That Little Wine Bar. The wine may be dry (pun intended) but where else in the world can you get your wine served by the animal bartenders, right?
Location: That Little Wine Bar, 54 Jalan Chow Thye
Operating Hours: Only opens for wine soiree on Thursdays, 6.30 pm onwards.
Contact: +604 226 8182
And there you have it – five Instagrammable Thomas Powell’s murals for you to check out in your #penang #streetart adventure! Get snappin’ and brace for the double-taps! Find Thomas Powell’s Art Gallery, along with Howard Tan’s studio and Fuan Wong’s glass gallery at 13 Lebuh Armenian.
The art gallery is open daily from 10am to 6pm and can be contacted at +6016 773 4763.