By Mei Kuan
Running on the theme “Down the Memory Lanes”, photography, wood carvings and paintings by Philippe Durant, Marcus Lim, Chin Choon Yau, Goh Huei Guan and Annies Lee take centre stage in an art exhibition which kicked off on Saturday, September 12.
Hosted by 22 Hale Street, the collection displayed in the two-storey heritage building highlights Ipoh Old Town, Papan and Tronoh.
The launch saw a presentation by Philippe Durant featuring music accompaniment by pianist Kok Kee Boon which aimed to create an impression through photography and music on how amazing Papan can be.
“I learned of Papan during a conversation with Azhar Kamaruddin, a fantastic local artist better known as Captain Jack. Since then I have visited Papan at least once a month and have gotten to know the area, the buildings, the nature and the inhabitants very well,” the amiable Philippe who led the art exhibition shared.
The Belgian artist added, “When you get there, take the time to get the feel of the village. One can spend a full day exploring and discovering the area. Try to interact with the locals who are very friendly. Admire the vestiges of old constructions, the colours, the various types of architecture and nature. Immerse yourself in the past of Papan while it is still there.”
This is his first photography exhibition in Malaysia in seven years. Prior to this, his photos have been featured in travel magazines, at the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival, and exhibited in Belgium and Sudan.
“The most important objective is first to create awareness of what Papan is. We did a video just a year ago and it was viewed by over 100,000 people. We also created a Facebook page named Papan Moods. Since then, other people have created pages on Papan too and a lot more people are going there so now it is back on the map. The biggest question is what is going to happen to it because it is in very bad condition. Renovating is very difficult as firstly the skills are no longer there like there used to be 100 years ago,” he explained to Ipoh Echo.
“Learn the past, watch the present and create the future,” Philippe enthused.
Present were Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian, CEO of Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK), Puan Sri Dato’ Sandra Lee, founder of 22 Hale Street, His Excellency Pascal Gregoire, Ambassador of Belgium to Malaysia and Dato’ Dr Afifi al-Akiti.
Ipoh Echo also spoke to Kuala Kangsar-born art teacher, Goh Huei Guan whose forte is wood carving with a focus on Chinese calligraphy as motif. “Art is so important in these difficult times we’re living in because art evokes feelings of calmness and tranquility. Therefore, one is less likely to be short-tempered. Besides that, life without art is meaningless,” he expressed.
Upcycling wood is his passion, Goh shared that he had carved on what used to be a wooden door from a shophouse in Papan measuring 10 feet long and 2 feet wide, to be put on display in Papan soon.
On the other hand, Marcus Lim is an artist from Sarawak with a flair for combining nature and traditional Dayak motives into unique pieces of art, while Chin Choon Yau is a watercolour and mural specialist whose works create awareness of societal issues. Equally talented is Annies Lee, a self-taught realism artist hailing from Kuala Lumpur whose first painting was bought by a French collector.
The art exhibition will run from September 12 till October 11 (Tuesday to Sunday from 10am till 6pm) at 22 Hale Street along Jalan Tun Sambanthan. You won’t wanna miss out on this one!