From one imaginative generation to another, Fatimah Ismail, textile artist extraordinaire, passes her visionary genius to her daughter, Marini Ramlan, who is spreading the joy of art near and far. By Sharmita Summugam.
MARINI RAMLAN: When I was about five or six, I remember my mother creating little art activities for me and my cousins to do, such as batik painting in the garden. Mostly I remember her giving me a lot of art supplies to play with. I was spoilt for choice, as what she gave me was of high quality, and I was also given free access to her home studio where I could take all the yarn I wanted and cut up any fabric to turn into clothes for my dolls! Mum wasn’t a hands-on art teacher, more of an enabler. She gave us the freedom to mess around. I could paint on my bedroom walls, shoes, and clothes, if I felt the need to. She would teach me through question and answer. I have a good sense of design and colour, which I picked up listening to her critiques with students or by her actually lecturing me. The latter has not stopped! We have been talking about collaborating on a line together. It’s in the works for sure but we’re in no hurry and it’s a process I would like to enjoy and to happen naturally without force.
There is a sense of peace and happiness I feel when I paint. It’s a form of meditation that leaves me refreshed. I find joy in sharing my love for art, whether it’s through sharing my work in progress, doing live paintings or conducting art lessons. Art is very important to balance your mind. I’m not saying we should all be artists, but I do believe in harnessing the imagination. One way to do that is to play and make things with your hands at an early age, and to continue this straight into adulthood. Fatimah Ismail, the visionary matriarch
I wanted to share this idea with people, and figured the best way to do that was to show through example. I have Mum to thank for teaching me how to teach using instinct and logic. Back in 2011, I had a strong urge to give back to society through art. So I decided to work with kids who could use a boost of art in their life. I found Yayasan Chow Kit through Dr. Tini Zainuddin whom I met at a charity event. It was the perfect place to start my #artforlife (a term I use to remind me to find time to do my art) programme. The concept is about making art fun, boosting the imagination through messing around with art.
Marini Ramlan and Eva Zahara Osman
Original textile art by Fatimah Ismail