Just a two-hour drive up north from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, the capital city of Perak state, was once a booming tin mining town during the British colonial era. However, the collapse of tin prices and closure of tin mines in the late 1970s meant that the town lost some of its lustre over the years. Activities slowed down and migrants moved out, leaving behind grand old buildings – the clock tower, railway station, city hall and charming pre-war shop houses.
Today, Ipoh is best known for its hawker fare and local dishes as well as its heritage buildings and historical stories. During my visit to Ipoh a few months ago, we spotted some beautiful murals on old, heritage buildings at the lane between Jalan Masjid and Jalan Sultan Iskandar. The paintings highlight the many cultures of Malaysia: lion dance, kuda kepang dance, Indian dance, some popular childhood games such as hide-and-seek and mother hen. It was being initiated by Eric Lai, an art teacher who teaches in Bercham.
It does not stop there. The wonderful wall art that started in Penang has also come to Ipoh as Ernest Zachaveric paints seven iconic murals in Ipoh’s Old Town to celebrate Old Town as the birth place of White Coffee.
OLDTOWN White Coffee was the core driver behind this ART OF OLD TOWN initiative in preserving Old Town in Ipoh. There are a lot of heritage and history that is shared between Ipoh, Old Town and OLDTOWN White Coffee, the true white coffee manufacturer in Malaysia.
Ernest Zacharevic said he has been touched by how cozy and intimate Ipoh old town is. Its architecture, culture, food and people have continued to captivate and inspire him. He has always wanted to come back to Ipoh, Old Town to soak in its rich culture and heritage so when OLDTOWN approached him, he is more than happy to leave his mark in this beautiful town.
I heard from my parents who live in Ipoh that the first mural is a bag of coffee, just like how we like to do take outs for drinks in Ipoh.
Subsequently, Ernest Zacharevic was seen painting a picture of a girl on a wall in Bandar Timah on the end of May 2014.
My favourite so far was the third mural of a yellow hummingbird which was seen on 2 June 2014.
Ernest’s latest mural is a portrait of an old uncle drinking coffee. It reminds me of my late grandfather and his favourite cup of Ipoh white coffee.
The other locations are not being revealed yet, and I’m dying to know! I’m heading back to Ipoh next weekend so it is a good opportunity for me to check out what is Ernest working on currently. Hopefully I can see him in action when I visit Ipoh old town. Follow #ArtOfOldTown to follow the progress of the seven murals in Ipoh old town.