Penang : Georgetown (II)

date: July 2014
Destination: Malaysia, Penang

[Part 2: art]
 

It isn't hard at all to imagine Georgetown to be a home for the arts – characterised by years of history and its rich heritage, the rustic appeal of the place adds extra charm and character.

In the recent years, Penang has become a popular tourist spot among the youngsters. With Ernest Zacharevic doing his  art residency in Penang, people from all over the word adjourn to join in the hunt for murals by Zacharevic scattered across the island. These murals are whimsical, and heartwarming  – it is admirable how a Lithuania-born artist is able to succinctly capture the spirit of an islander's way of life.

It is obvious that tourism has become very much integrated into the locals' lives and street art tours are very popular among the tourists, ourselves included. Everywhere we went, shops are selling souvenirs, street art guides were given out, and all you have to do to track down that particular mural was to ask a local and they would tell you exactly where it is.

However it was no joke exploring in this intense heat, I have never perspired so much since my visit to Cambodia. I am so glad to have gone on this trip with my two friends, Lynette and Yahui, who willingly accommodate to my pleas to seek refuge while I was at the brink of self-incinerating. The hashtag for our trip on Instagram is also pretty much self-explanatory.  #sweatdripsdownmy_____.

While  we are not trying to cool ourselves down from the sweltering heat in air-conditioned cafes, we are out mural/street food hunting. We have had a lot of fun fooling around, taking pictures with the street art and trying to create our own stories in the depicted scenes. Here are some pictures from our mural hunting excursions  –

Hin Bus Company
65, 52, Jalan Gurdwara, Georgetown, 10300 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

I always had a penchant for old spaces that are given a new lease of life. This converted art space was formerly a bus deport, and this was where Ernest Zacharevic held his first solo exhibition. When we got there, most of the art pieces were sold and no longer on display but the large scale drawings that Zacharevic left in that space were equally impressive.

For the fact that we were mainly in Georgetown the entire trip, you can tell that there were a plenty of hidden alleys for us to explore, and more than enough cafes to visit to keep us cool and entertained.

In the final part of this Georgetown Trilogy (name coined by Yahui), I'll be sharing a list of cafes and food that we have conquered over the past few days. So, stay tuned. :-)

Georgetown Trilogy : Part I [sight], Part II [art], Part III [food]

What Matters

"I began spending a lot of time reminding myself that regardless of whether this has all been luck or whether I have any talent isn’t what matters. Who cares about that? What matters is that I am happy getting up every day to paint and draw. What matters is that I make my best effort every day to be myself in my life and work. What matters is that I work really hard at my career. What matters is that I am thoughtful about the work I want to make and the people I want to work with. What matters is that once it started, making art for a living hasn’t failed me. " – Lisa Congdon

 

Read her entire post here and agree that she is simply amazing.


[A conversation with Olly some 6 weeks ago...]

Olly: "You got to learn to be an artist."

"But... isn't that self-indulgent?"

Olly: "Who cares?!"


Oh Maira

I love staying home on a Friday Night knowing that people are out there living it up and painting the town red (and later with their dinner) because this just means that I have a lot more Alone time to myself that I do not need to share with other people who are Alone.

For me, there is a strange charm about Friday nights; the slow unwrapping of the weekend, like a precious flower, or an onion. Perhaps it is the faint static that hangs in the stillness of the air, with time unhurried. Or, the languid drawl of the night as it announces the end of a long week. You suddenly find yourself with all the time in the world to lose yourself to daydreaming, and to catch up on internet's awesomeness. What a luxury. The only thing that is really missing right now is a huge tub of ice cream. Who cares about the culminated bad calories that you have already indulged in to get past the week.

As always, I am here for a reason. Besides to mask my existentialism issues by romanticising Friday nights alone, I really want to share this video which features Maira Kalman, an established illustrator/author. I've always been in love with her works and I admit that I love her more after learning that she loves books more than I do. In this video, she explores her identity in art, and how she uses her drawings to tell stories that belong to people/strangers, which, in turn helps her to find a relationship with the world. The video is uplifting and absolutely relatable. I think what is empowering about her message is that she is telling us to look at the things that form a huge part of our lives and being creative enough to make them part of our identities. This will then help us understand our sense of purpose in this world. She is a classic example of an amazing human being.

 

"How do you know who you are? There are many parts to who you are, so there isn’t one static place. And then, the other part of that is that things keep changing." – Maria Kalman

It is funny, because I have been thinking a lot about my art lately and this video appeared in a timely fashion. While storytelling has always been the main focus behind my artworks, there seems to be a lack of a deeper connection between what I do and what it is originally intended for. I haven't been able to figure this out for a long while but now that I do, I am thankful that the pieces to this puzzle are slowly finding their way to me and this really excites me to take on an entirely new approach to my works. There is still so so so much more that I need to learn which is so daunting yet exciting at the same time.

Another gem on the internet, Pizza Feminism – feminism served fresh and toasty. It really fills you up after a week worth of listening to mind-numbing sexist jokes/comments that are being slipped into daily conversations. 

Sooo we are into March and that scares me a little. For now, I'll leave springing into action for tomorrow while I watch a movie and wait for flu medication to kick in. Happy Weekend everyone. ☺

A Very Small Exhibition

As we ventured up to the second floor of Shaw Towers and navigated through the labyrinth of shops, we found ourselves in the woods in the middle of the mall. Pushing past the glass door with a beautifully hand-scripted welcome sign, we were first greeted by a scent of the leafy greens and Joanne's smile which brightened up the space.

Very Small Exhibition is a monthly curation project where Joanne and her friends take turns to fill the space with fresh concepts and experimental installations, to provide a place where people can enjoy as a form of respite. For the month of February, it has been transformed into a retail space where Joanne provides a customized hand-scripting service for Saint Valentine's Day.

It also has everything that I love – plants, flowers, glass bottles and colorful confetti! Needless to say, I got myself a message-in-a-bottle and had Joanne hand-script a line from one of my favourite poems You are Oceanic by Tapiwa Mugabe. I loved the idea of having part of the ocean in my bottle. Maybe someday the time will come when I can let this message return to the ocean and let the waves carry it to someone else who needs it more then me. ☺

I first met Joanne at The 3rd Space Christmas Pop-Up store last year and I'm glad to have found a friend in this lovely kindred soul. What I really love about her works is in the beauty of transforming words into pieces of artworks. Her passion for her art really rubs off in our conversations when Joanne shared how she took the leap to start The Letter J Supply in pursue of creating for a greater purpose. It is something that resonated strongly with me and it really made me think hard about my craft. 

For a Very Small Exhibition, there were actually Lots To Marvel At. So much so that I spent close to two hours every time I visit. The greatest success of this exhibition is that you leave with more than the bottle of flowers in your hand, or the scent of fresh greenery in your hair. You step out with a smile on your face and a new experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Here are some amazing pictures from the exhibition, captured mostly by Evie, my tiny friend with amazing photography skills. ☺

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Have a lovely weekend everyone! ☺

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2013

This blog has gathered  just enough cobwebs for Halloween! Yipee.

So the waves have finally brought me back to my sunny shores. Actually, since a week ago. My mysterious disappearance to Australia was the result of being sucked into a relentless temptation offered by a budget airline and a need for some quiet time.  I will be posting my photos from my trips bit by bit so there would be something to look at for the next few days.. weeks... months? 

 It is hard to believe that September came and gone just like that. 21st September was a day that I was counting down to since the 1st of July. When the day finally came, I did not know what to expect and almost relieved at the fact that I am present in Tokyo, at Tokyo Art Book Fair as an exhibitor.  By Grace I made it there, and I am sure glad I did. ☺

This year's fair was a massive one, we were one of the 300 over booths at Tokyo Art Book Fair held at a university with the most confusing name at Shinanomachi, Tokyo this year. The event was a huge eye-opener, it was really great meeting independent publishers from all over the world. However, there were a few challenges in being part of such a huge exhibition as well – in trying to stand out and having to set prices at a competitive rate. When I took a break from manning the booth and walked around, it was only then I realized how huge the compound was. I ended up only purchasing two zines on the first day myself. Both were by Taiwanese designers and extremely lovely. ☺

Seated at my tiny corner at the booth, it was interesting to observe the way people interacted with my designs and the display space. It was an incredible experience to see how your design extends beyond the physical material (in this case, the book) and to the environment in which is sitting in and vice versa. It gave me a lot of ideas on how my works can be improved to provide a more wholesome experience. I also thoroughly enjoyed talking to people who took interest in my works, to explain about the concept of my writings and designs even though not everyone who came by left with something in the end. It was a truly humbling experience to meet people who tell you that they appreciate what you do, and my heart stifles a chuckle whenever I see people smiling while flipping through my books. 

 

 

Over the 3 days, we had our fair share of surprises – friends (Saki, Silas, John & Lp) who showed up to give their support, as well as acquaintances who came by with coffee and chocolates, including the man from an antique shop in Shimo who loaned us display items for free. There was also a sweet Singaporean lady who dropped by our booth with her son to show her support when she realized that we are also Singaporeans. Not forgetting Bernice, Stacy and Josiah who helped us packed at the end of the fair and Josiah who carried my stuff up 5 levels to our apartment with his super strength after he learnt that our apartment elevator was not working. So thankful for these people. ☺

This trip was unlike any other trips to Tokyo, mainly because the intention was not for vacation. It is definitely a great experience and something I wouldn't mind doing again. As there is always a first for everything, I am beyond blessed to have this experience to call my own.

Here are some pictures that I have managed to capture amidst the crowd! Hope you guys will enjoy the post, it was not easy typing with both hands covering my ears to protect them from the boisterous roar of the thunderstorm. ☺ 

 

Entrance to Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS   

Entrance to Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design GAIEN CAMPUS

 

Stamping workshop at one of the tents on lvl 1

Stamping workshop at one of the tents on lvl 1

Cute booth designed like a birdhouse

Cute booth designed like a birdhouse

Random by PY Leong X Wood&Lead

Random by PY Leong X Wood&Lead

Our tiny booth – I had to balance a merchandises on my head and it helped to draw some crowd.

Our tiny booth – I had to balance a merchandises on my head and it helped to draw some crowd.

Customers browsing through  Of Clouds & Parenthesis , a travelogue.

Customers browsing through Of Clouds & Parenthesis, a travelogue.

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LP who gave us a HUGE surprise by turning up with John without notice 

LP who gave us a HUGE surprise by turning up with John without notice 

Michelle, Wood&Lead customer who bought and modeled the tote *___*

Michelle, Wood&Lead customer who bought and modeled the tote *___*

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Click on the image above to watch the video which accurately captured the mood of the book fair. This video was taken and originally uploaded by my friend Stacy who runs a cool site with updates of her life in Tokyo. 

 

Also, Wood&Lead items sold at Tokyo Art Book Fair are now available for purchase, visit Wood&Lead Etsy store now ! ☺ 
  

 

Rolling In The Deep

Here's something I've been working on (besides a better sense of humor), when I am not photoshopping faces on stalks of broccoli. I've been illustrating a lot, compiling my series of 'pun' drawings into a book/zine for the Tokyo Art Book Fair this year (!!!). It has been really interesting so far. I've done a lot of hand lettering and made a lot of patterns and these are some things that I didn't exactly think that I'd be doing. The following week would mark a huge milestone in this project. While I'm a little nervous, I'm really excited as well. I made a silly gif out of the buns featured on my zine cover. I wish I am able to relate to the one with a bag of baguette, holding a stalk of daisy, but I really feel like the one at the bottom doing the running while trying to balance everything at the same time. I have exactly a month. If the rolling pin is my only mode of transportation I'll roll my way to Tokyo. じゃね! I hope you guys enjoyed the gif better than my Adele reference.

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Me, in a few lines

I will have to start working like a jellyfish for the next few weeks. I enjoy staying in on rare Saturdays/Sundays and getting all my work done in one sitting (only leaving my seat a couple of times for trips to the kitchen savaging for food). In between the stuff that I am supposed to finish by today I got a little carried away and made a simple logo vector out of my painting. It was so much fun. ☺

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Work-in-Progress

One of the paintings I worked on last weekend - the lines far too raw and the brushstrokes too careless for my liking. Unpolished, and awkward as it is, it makes quite an accurate depiction of myself. I am a Work-in-Progress.

It is not the best, but it is how I want to present myself to others, as I am. I spend a lot of my time reading, it makes the second best form of escapism to traveling. In words there are worlds we find that do not exist, our universe gets a little bigger and more interesting when you explore it in reading. Our lives are made up of stories – the ones that do not belong to us, some discovered, some made up and those you live to tell. 

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I am learning to love my works a little more by sharing them with others and getting feedback. It is an unnerving thing to put yourself out there, it feels uncomfortable and narcissistic to a certain extend. I was never quite for the idea of having a 'blog' because most people set it up with a common intention in mind. I do it not because I think that I am amazing at what I am doing, but because every piece of work is a deliberate attempt  to make something original, sharing them motivates me to make something better in my next try. It is also an exercise for me in learning to relinquish control because I am really my own worse critic. 

For me, the documentation of these works encompass the effort in crafting my personal creative endeavor and writing my own story. I hope that I can one day look back and see how much closer I am to where I want to be. I am not hopeful that what I am doing would open any doors, but I just know that doing what you love is equally important and it might make the world a better place. You would then, have a story to tell and naturally find your place in the universe. After all, like how Muriel Rukeyser has put it  "The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories." ☺

ルーシー

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I discovered the shaky silhouette of a stray kitten on my illustrator art board one day, a remnant of an artwork that I have deleted and brought this clumsy neko 'Lucie' to life. Made phone wallpapers out of cat prints for my mom and thought I'd share it. [Free for grabs - click on desired wallpaper and save for use.] ☺

The origin of the name 'Lucie' is from a Japanese movie that I caught in-flight. Chat Noir Lucy – is about a superstitious fortune teller's encounter with a black cat. It is a heartwarming film which made me smile a lot. This is one film I'd recommend to all cat lovers. I have linked up the trailer below, I hope you guys will get to watch it. ☺

Backside of the Moon

One of the rare times I actually sit through movies would be on the air plane, I mean you don't really have a choice when you are literally strapped to the seat. It is not that I hate watching movies, but I do have an attention span as fleeting as the memory of grabbing eggs from a convenience store. Therefore, I see extensive flight hours as an opportunity for me to get reacquainted with civilization. One of the movies that I've caught was Silver Linings Playbook (forgive me, I know it is so 2012).

The movie resonated deeply – about people and their demons, how the weight of life can plunge you into total darkness and societal prejudice against 'people with problems'. At the end of the day, it is up to you to find your own silver lining. Sometimes it is tough, as much as you want to believe in yourself, it really matters that others believe in you too.

Interestingly, an artwork part of Setouchi Triennale in Naoshima, gave me a great insight on a similar scale. The project titled 'Backside of the Moon' was a collaboration between James Turrell and Tadao Ando in 1999. At the start of the tour, we were informed that it was going to be really dark inside the Minamidera artspace and we had to stick out our hands to feel the walls as we go. It was pitch dark when we entered, which led to me occasional bumping into the dude in front of me and the grazing of hands (totally unintentional of course ahem). We sat in the darkness for five minutes.

I opened and closed my eyes to feel the difference, and contemplated about whether it is better to have a faint glimpse of what is next before deciding that it is better to not know at all.  I soon got comfortable with the darkness surrounding me. So did the others around me as I began to hear people loosening their joints (and half expected someone to fart).  This could be the closest thing to being invisible and it was a real nice feeling.

Slowly, a white screen came to view and we were instructed to walk towards it and feel it, which I thought it was weird since I was in for a film screening. As everyone awkwardly ambled towards it, it was funny to see grown ups walking like toddlers. With hands outstretched, I touched a wall of cloud. It was such an amazing experience that no amount of exclamation marks I put to the end of this sentence would do it justice. If I was tall enough, I would have climbed over the wall and disappeared into oblivion.

It was then I realized, that the wall of light has always been there all along. The lighting has not been changed, but it was the eyes adjusting to the equilibrium of the light and darkness existing in the space. I understood with more clarity now – when you first step into the darkness from a very bright place, you are unable to see anything else but the darkness that surrounds you. But even in total darkness, there is always light – if you choose to see it.