Penang at a Glance
Hundreds of years ago, merchants and labourers sailed from faraway lands and laid anchor off Penang, to make their fortunes. They brought with them their own languages, customs and traditions. Over time, the state evolved into a melting pot of cultures with a blend of eastern and western influences, evident by the different places of worship, diverse heritage food, vibrant celebrations and more. Certainly, our culture’s diverse richness is one of many things that are central to Penang’s multicultural, multiethnic and multifaith identity.
Today, this vibrant state in Malaysia exudes a fascinating personality of its own, straddling the new and the old. Hoping to preserve Penang’s unique diversity, George Town Festival is releasing Penang at a Glance, a photobook that showcases both the familiar and the never-before-seen scenes of Penang captured by Govindarajoo Selvathurai, Oh Chin Eng, Sherwynd Rylan Kessler and Thum Chia Chieh. These talented photographers from different backgrounds have beautifully recorded the state’s fantastic landscapes, time-honoured traditions and friendly people. They have also documented Penang’s year-long events and festivals, from religious and cultural to homegrown arts.
Penang at a Glance is now available for purchase in stores and online.
“Penang at a Glance” Photography Exhibition
* Only those who are fully vaccinated (having received the second dose of vaccine after 14 days, or after 28 days for single-dose vaccines) are allowed to enter.
* Only children aged 13 years and above are allowed to enter.
About the Photographers
Working in an office can make engineer Govindarajoo Selvathurai feel a little boxed-in; that’s why he took up aerial and landscape photography in 2018 as a form of escapism. Fuelled by love and driven by passion, Govindarajoo started to capture the state’s happy mix of old-world charm and modern vibes, ranging from heritage mansions to modern tourist attractions. He finds himself specifically drawn to Penang’s simplicity and often-overlooked perspectives – it is a beauty in itself. After all, for Govindarajoo, photography is an art of observation; it is about finding the unique in the ordinary.
Sherwynd Rylan Kessler
As a professional photographer specialising in various fields – from wedding to lifestyle photography – Sherwynd Rylan Kessler has been to many places in the region. Still, Penang’s wide-ranging photogenic features – from its colonial and heritage buildings to its people, culture, rugged landscapes, idyllic seascapes, and humble street food – are his favourite subjects. As a true-blue Penangite and a visual storyteller, Kessler is inclined to preserve Penang’s fantastic diversity and heritage, and share them with the world. Kessler is also an award-winning photographer and is considered one of the best-known photographers in Penang.
Thum Chia Chieh
Thum Chia Chieh is an electronics engineer and a photographer born and raised in Penang. Thum’s journey in photography began when he was in university as he attempted to document his university days. Having seen Penang’s changing landscapes and streetscapes over the decades, Thum understands that what he sees today may not be the same in the eyes of future generations. That’s why he tries to capture the way he sees the streets as he walks through them, preserving the bustling old streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its old-world vibes, heritage shophouses, and various landmarks with his trusted camera.
Oh Chin Eng
Civil servant Oh Chin Eng often travels around Penang on his motorcycle to get him closer (and faster) to the community – his fellow “Penang lang”. As a special officer in the Chief Minister’s Office, he meets all kinds of people, and he realises that “Penang lang” share one thing in common: they are fiercely proud of Penang – so much so that they brought this passion into their lifestyles, culture, traditions, attires, and festivals. Through his photographs, Oh hopes to put the people of Penang as the centerpiece – they are just as compelling as Penang’s food, murals, landmarks, and attractions.