Street art from the heart

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

In a re­cent is­sue of T&I (Oc­to­ber 17-18), I wrote about civic art in Ge­orge Town, Pe­nang. In the core of this most de­light­ful of Malaysian ci­ties there are streets plas­tered with mu­rals and in­ter­ac­tive wall art that in­vite passers-by to linger and of­ten smile at the sheer wit and in­ven­tive­ness.

Th­ese are not bright bill­board images but art­works that blend into the peel­ing fab­ric of shop-houses, pub­lic build­ings and small ho­tels. This pic­ture shows two laugh­ing young­sters seem­ingly perched on a bi­cy­cle. The propped bike, how­ever, is real, as are the mo­tor­cy­cle and swings in other sim­i­larly clever works. The streets of Ge­orge Town are all the cheerier for their pres­ence.

In par­al­lel fash­ion, pop-ups are all the go, from res­tau­rants and food trucks to hole-in-the-wall shops that are sprout­ing around my patch of in­ner-city Syd­ney as Christ­mas draws nigh. At Woy Woy, near our beach-house week­ender, Fish­er­men’s Wharf has had guest chefs pop­ping up this year over week­ends and it has been fun to sam­ple food from the likes of NYC’s Matty Ben­nett of The Lucky Bee and Syd­ney’s Mat­teo Zam­boni of Pilu at Fresh­wa­ter.

Neigh­bour­hood mar­kets are sud­denly back in vogue and the of­fer­ings have evolved way be­yond cheap batik shirts and bulk in­cense. In­stead of mass-mar­ket im­ports, the em­pha­sis is on the hand-hewn and lo­cally sourced. Such mar­kets of­ten are mobile, mov­ing around sub­urbs or dis­tricts, set­ting up tem­po­rary bases in school grounds or vil­lage halls.

There will be stall-hold­ers with very par­tic­u­lar spe­cial­i­ties, from soy can­dles to chunky pick­les, and an agree­able sense of pride at the flour­ish­ing of their cot­tage in­dus­tries. And pre­pared-on-the-spot food is part of the mix, usu­ally up-to-the-minute stuff such as matcha shakes and pael­las. Sausage siz­zles? Yes, but the snags will be in flavours such as Moroc­can lamb and raisin. Gluten-free? No probs. Sugar-free mac­arons? Sure.

Back in Ge­orge Town, the pop-up hawk­ers at the food mar­kets are hardly so no­madic. Ter­ri­tory is tightly held. They fold up their stalls by night, or throw over a wa­ter­proof sheet­ing, but next morn­ing they are back, as their fam­i­lies have been for decades. But th­ese days more tourists are stop­ping by, hun­gry from pac­ing the street art trail.

Fol­low on In­sta­gram: su­sankuro­sawa

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