Ac­ces­soris­ing the show

Il­ham gallery gets its batik groove on with a list of pub­lic pro­grammes.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART - SHEELA CHANDrAN star2@ thes­tar. com. my

BRING­ING art to the masses – that’s al­ways been the mis­sion of Il­ham gallery in Kuala Lumpur that seeks to bring peo­ple into closer con­tact with Malaysian mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art, the artists and their ideas.

To ap­peal to a di­verse au­di­ence, the pub­lic gallery strives hard to of­fer some­thing in­ter­est­ing to ev­ery­one – be it art en­thu­si­asts, the cu­ri­ous crowd or young chil­dren who visit the gallery for the first time.

Il­ham gallery opened last Au­gust with the Pic­tur­ing The Na­tion ex­hi­bi­tion, which cen­tred on na­tional por­trait painter Datuk Hoes­sein Enas’s legacy.

Pic­tur­ing The Na­tion was given an added di­men­sion with panel dis­cus­sions in­volv­ing writer/ pub­lisher/ film­maker Amir Muham­mad, car­toon­ist Datuk Lat and au­thor/ com­poser Saidah Ras­tam right to tra­di­tional per­for­mances at the gallery or­gan­ised by the Pusaka or­gan­i­sa­tion.

To cul­ti­vate art ap­pre­ci­a­tion, the gallery or­gan­ises free tours.

For its cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion Love Me In My Batik: Mod­ern Batik Art From Malaysia And Be­yond, there are in­ter­ac­tive guided tours de­signed for chil­dren ( ages three to five) and school vis­its.

Fam­ily tours are also or­gan­ised to give par­ents and chil­dren a chance to en­gage with art.

“Art dis­cov­ery tours for kids are held to give our young visi­tors the chance to en­gage with the art, in­ter­pret ideas and even cre­ate their own art­work,” says Ra­hel Joseph, Il­ham gallery di­rec­tor.

The Love Me In My Batik: Mod­ern Batik Art From Malaysia And Be­yond ex­hi­bi­tion, which runs till June 15, looks at how batik has been em­braced and rein­vented through the years.

Span­ning works from 1952 to 2016, the show gives an over­view of dif­fer­ent na­tional im­ageries across suc­ces­sive pe­ri­ods in our post- war his­tory. It also ex­am­ines how the emer­gence of batik painting in the early 1950s was, in many ways, sup­ported by a sys­tem of colo­nial pa­tron­age.

Ra­hel added that pub­lic pro­grammes are a way to pro­vide a vi­tal link be­tween Il­ham and the wider com­mu­nity, to make the gallery more in­clu­sive.

“We also try to have a wide range of pro­grammes that ap­peal to a large au­di­ence. We will be or­gan­is­ing a cu­ra­to­rial work­shop se­ries next month aimed at art pro­fes­sion­als to sup­port cu­ra­to­rial prac­tice in the coun­try. It will be led by Sin­ga­pore’s Sub­sta­tion Arts Cen­tre’s for­mer artis­tic co- di­rec­tor Lee Weng Choy,” she adds.

Lee, who has over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the arts, has worked across a wide range of projects, from be­ing a co- cu­ra­tor with the Asia Pa­cific Tri­en­nial to project manag­ing a trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion of the Guggen­heim mu­seum.

He will be ap­pear­ing at Il­ham from April 9- 12.

For the Love Me In My Batik: Mod­ern Batik Art From Malaysia And Be­yond ex­hi­bi­tion, Il­ham gallery has put to­gether a pub­lic pro­gramme with per­son­al­i­ties from film, theatre and fash­ion de­sign.

Be it panel dis­cus­sions or work­shops, these ses­sions look to blur the lines be­tween the broader cul­tural in­dus­try and the art scene.

The in­vited speak­ers are play­wright Ann Lee, de­signer Datuk Tom Abang Saufi, Ja­gat movie di­rec­tor Shan­jhey Ku­mar and Saidah Ras­tam.

“All of these speak­ers have a great deal to con­trib­ute to the on­go­ing di­a­logue about cul­ture and arts in the coun­try and re­gion,” says Ra­hel.

Ever won­dered why it took Shan­jhey close to 10 years to make the film Ja­gat? Don’t miss In The Cre­ative Process: The Mak­ing Of Ja­gat ( April 9), where Shan­jhey and film pro­ducer Si­vanan­tham Pe­ri­anan share their ex­pe­ri­ences and strug­gles in mak­ing the movie.

Ja­gat, which was re­leased last De­cem­ber and be­came a word- of­mouth hit, por­trays the plight of the Malaysian In­dian un­der­class, where ur­ban poverty and crime are ram­pant.

Need a fash­ion tip? How about a quick les­son on the many fea­tures of the sarong? Join Datuk Tom and her sis­ter Hab­sah Abang Saufi as they present a talk on their sarong de­signs, which fuse con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tion el­e­ments. Don’t miss Sarongs: You Can’t Go Wrong ( April 16).

On May 28, Saidah’s talk Ra­dio Malaya And Se­ladang Sounds will high­light the in­flu­ence of Ra­dio Malaya in the 1950s in creat­ing the mu­sic of Malaya to rep­re­sent the coun­try’s iden­tity.

Last Oc­to­ber, Saidah spoke at Il­ham about the legacy of Surya Buana, a key fig­ure in com­pos­ing pa­tri­otic songs dur­ing the trou­bled Kon­frontasi years in the 1960s.

Other high­lights at Il­ham, in­clude Pok­ing Fire: Con­tem­po­rary Po­lit­i­cal Satire In South- East Asia ( April 2), which sees Ann Lee dis­cussing satire – and its con­se­quences – in In­done­sia and Malaysia.

Trade, Ties And Trans­for­ma­tions ( May 14), a tex­tile sym­po­sium, is an­other far- reach­ing pub­lic event. Here lead­ing in­dus­try ex­perts have been tapped to dis­cuss the his­tor­i­cal, cul­tural and spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance of tex­tiles from the re­gion and be­yond.

Else­where, the dance per­for­mance Dress­ing The Body ( May 14) by chore­og­ra­pher Joseph Gon­za­les is set to light up the gallery space. It in­spired by Il­ham gallery’s pub­lic sculp­ture Breast Stupa Topiary by award- win­ning Thai artist Pina­ree San­pitak.

Not to be missed is the Pat­terns And Sym­bols work­shop ( June 7- 8) where teenagers have the op­por­tu­nity to work with con­tem­po­rary artist Liew Kung Yu to de­sign and cre­ate their own per­son­alised mo­tifs and prints.

For the Pic­tur­ing The Na­tion ex­hi­bi­tion, Il­ham or­gan­ised 15 pub­lic pro­grammes, and the re­cep­tion for each of them was good.

Ra­hel is an­tic­i­pat­ing a sim­i­lar re­sponse to the Love Me In My Batik pro­grammes.

“Last sea­son’s pro­grammes went down well with the masses. Our talk with car­toon­ist Lat last Novem­ber at­tracted a stand­ing room- only crowd! Our school holiday pro­grammes are also very well at­tended. We’re look­ing for­ward to the pub­lic com­ing in for the var­i­ous Love Me In My Batik pro­grammes as well as to visit and en­joy the ex­hi­bi­tion it­self,” says Ra­hel.

is on at Il­ham, Lev­els 3 and 5, Il­ham tower, No. 8, Jalan Bin­jai, Kuala Lumpur. Free ad­mis­sion. Open­ing hours: tues­day to Satur­day 11am to 7pm. Sun­day, 11am to 5pm. Closed on Mon­days. the show runs till June 15. For de­tails on gallery tours and pub­lic pro­grammes, go to: www. il­ham­gallery. com. In­ter­ested schools and col­leges can also email info@ il­ham­gallery. com to ar­range a per­son­alised tour.

Il­ham gallery has opened its doors to the masses with its pub­lic pro­grammes. Pic­tured is car­toon­ist datuk Mo­ham­mad nor Khalid ( right), bet­ter known as Lat, ad­dress­ing the crowd at Il­ham last novem­ber. — Photos: Filepics

Fash­ion de­signer datuk Tom Abang Saufi is set to share her ex­pe­ri­ences in the batik field at the Sarongs: You Can’t Go Wrong talk on April 16.

Film­maker Shan­jhey Ku­mar Peru­mal will ap­pear at Il­ham gallery for the In the Cre­ative Process: the Mak­ing Of Ja­gat dis­cus­sion on April 9.

On May 28, Saidah ras­tam’s talk ra­dio Malaya And Se­ladang

Sounds at Il­ham gallery will high­light the in­flu­ence of ra­dio Malaya in the 1950s.

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