Artist Julia Volchkova Paints Penang

Surely, if Penang has room for one more street artist, Julia Volchkova fits the bill. Born and bred in Russia, Volchkova arrived in Penang with her personal interpretation of street art. However, that wasn’t the only thing that she brought along to George Town, Penang.

‘The mural of a little boy on Prangin Canal was inspired by a photograph taken by a friend who travelled to Indonesia,’ she said.

‘He was photographed in a poor neighbourhood. He has no home and lives in a tent made of plastic bags. This story touched me and I wanted to talk about it.’


Volchkova studied art in her home country and it was there, she experimented with ‘outdoor painting’, or street art as we like to call it. Believing that her ambitions are bigger than Siberia, she moved to St Petersburg, the cultural capital of her country. ‘I learned very quickly and it was there I began to draw more. At the moment, most of my paintings are there.’

From St Petersburg to Penang, how did she find her way here? ‘I was invited to paint the wall of a new hostel in Penang,’ she said and it was an opportunity she couldn’t refuse – to paint in a heritage town and learn about Malaysian culture.

While she described her style as mostly realism and portraits, her interest for spray art was also evident in most of her murals. ‘Art scene in Russia is more diverse and modern. In Penang, it’s all about history and national spirit.’

Volchkova’s second mural on Lebuh Klang also spawned a following among the press and locals alike. ‘The work took about two weeks to complete,’ she said. ‘I was very pleased that the ‘boatman’ generated great response from the locals and tourists.’

‘I’d not seen such response anywhere else. Penang has a very appreciative audience.’

During her stay in Penang, the city’s multicultural blend and street food were the things that attracted her the most. ‘My favourite place in George Town was Yeap Noodles. I went there to eat with my friends every day.’

‘I loved walking in the National Park too. The beach there was pretty magical.’

So, what’s next for Julia Volchkova? ‘I was invited to paint in Mexico this autumn. If all goes well, I plan to do something tremendous there. Then I’ll go on a journey around the world, where each country will bring new opportunities.’

This article titled ‘Artist Julia Volchkova Paints Penang’ was published in Food & Lifestyle – My Stories by Penang Global Tourism in 2014. Kindly refer to this link to view from its original publication.

Images courtesy of Julia Volchkova

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