Penang is a fun little island, off the northwest coast of Malaysia. What started as a British outpost in the 1800s has now grown into a bustling hub famous for its colonial architecture, Perenakan culture and great food. Penang’s people are an easy mix of native Malay, south Chinese and south Indian, the latter immigrants moved here for trade and ended up becoming a deep part of the fabric of this nation.

Today, Penang attracts visitors from all over the world to marvel at intact colonial architecture in Georgetown which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to savor its Perenakan cuisine. Perenakans, or Baba Nyonyas are the Chinese who settled in the straits and married native Malay, the resulting mix of flavours in their food has to be tasted to be believed.

It is no wonder then, that Penang has preserved its heritage arts and crafts till date, take a look at the heritage trail which takes you to visit the island’s various heritage traders.

My walk today, though, was to take a look at young Penangites and how they have adopted this history in their crafts today. What I found was an eclectic mix of old and new, local and global, all housed in the strangest art gallery I’ve ever seen – a refurbished bus depot!

Hin Bus Depot served Penang in the post-war recovery period and shut down in 1999.
Hin Bus Depot served Penang in the post-war recovery period and shut down in 1999.

 

Fifteen years later, it was revived and re-purposed to be an art gallery and community space.
Fifteen years later, it was revived and re-purposed to be an art gallery and community space.

 

Follow me on a photo essay through the Sunday pop-up market!
Follow me on a photo essay through the Sunday pop-up market!

 

What joy to craft delicate dream catchers!
What joy to craft delicate dream catchers!

 

Color, before and after
Color, before and after

 

Even pets get their own handmade collars!
Even pets get their own handmade collars!

 

Adorable toys and handmade notebooks
Adorable toys and handmade notebooks

 

Where local meets global - polymer clay from USA is crafted into delicate floral accessories
Where local meets global – polymer clay from USA is crafted into delicate floral accessories

 

Bold Chinese calligraphy
Bold Chinese calligraphy

 

Up, close and personal with a local barista! Using medium roast Ethiopian beans packaged in Australia, this young barista crafted a slow pour over with immense patience. Well, that’s the first ingredient in good coffee, right?!

The beans are first measured
The beans are first measured

 

The filter is dampened to remove any possible paper taste in the coffee
The filter is dampened to remove any possible paper taste in the coffee
The beans are ground
She let me smell it!
She let me smell it!

 

 

 

 

 

Slow, patient pour over coffee
Slow, patient pour over coffee

 

And finally, a Malay take on Vincent Van Gogh’s “Night”. East meets West, isn’t it?!

Blog published by: Akshata Rao, IT professional, Penang, Malaysia

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