In Sight of Waller Court
By Tan Mei Kuan
A day of myriad arts and culture activities in August, led by Urban Sketchers Ipoh in collaboration with other Perakean NGOs, created a much-needed breath of fresh air at Waller Court.
Its former glory and present everyday life were highlighted in the community event which featured sketch artwork showcased by Urban Sketchers Ipoh, photography exhibition by Society of Photo Image Perak, explore tour by GoKaki, Japanese shibori tie-dye workshop by Taiping-born Tia Yee Ling, organic bazaar, installation art done by JIU in Art, choir from Faerie Lee Vocal Ensemble and a treasure hunt. Visitors were in for a treat as there were booths providing free portrait art, family photo and ice cream.
“We hope members of the public who are unfamiliar with Waller Court will come here today to experience it firsthand and subsequently evoke nostalgia in former residents. This is Ipoh’s first flat which used to have over 3000 residents. We spoke to the remaining residents here and each of them just wishes for the flats to be cleaned up and managed properly so that they could live with peace of mind as they really love to continue to stay here,” Yan Lee Sok Yin, Founder of GoKaki shared with Ipoh Echo.
Waller Court’s site was opened by the then Menteri Besar Dato’ Shaari bin Shafiee on 10 August 1960 while the flats were declared open by Mrs E.G. Waller on May 10, 1962, at a ceremony presided over by the then Councillor D.R. Seenivasagam. These flats are named after Mr E.G. Waller, the then Chairman of Ipoh Town Council from November 1959 to May 1962. Formerly, Waller Court was a housing area built for the lower-income residents of Ipoh. Notable former residents included Mimi Chu, Malaysian-born Hong Kong actress and singer.
“No one knows if Waller Court will be conserved. The residents here, especially the elderly welcomed us warmly when the idea to organise this came about. We have been sketching here for almost a year and this is the first time we are exhibiting here. All revenue collected today will be channelled towards Paloh Heritage Sketch Walk involving NGOs from ASEAN countries to be held at the end of this year in Old Town,” Chin Kok Yan, Founder of Urban Sketchers Ipoh explained.
Urban Sketchers Ipoh is a self-funded and non-profit NGO attached to the international Urban Sketchers. Running on the slogan, “Sketching Ipoh for Future Generations”, the drawing enthusiasts draw on location, indoors or outdoors, capturing what they see from direct observation to share with the next generation. One of their themes to sketch is buildings of historical value.
Those interested in joining Urban Sketchers Ipoh just need to join their Facebook page and sketch away!
Meanwhile, GoKaki is another NGO which offers community tours for all to walk, see, experience and taste all things local at only a minimal fee in multiple languages. It is not just another sightseeing tour in town as it covers a lot of lesser-known locations and its amiable guides have plenty of heart-warming, real-life stories to share for an in-depth understanding of our society. For more updates, check out its Facebook page by the same name.