Weav­ing an epic tale

Anne Sa­mat threads in­dus­trial and ev­ery­day ob­jects into in­tri­cate wall-mounted sculp­tures in her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - By ROUWEN LIN star2@thes­tar.com.my

ANNE Sa­mat has an un­canny abil­ity to make even the or­di­nary seem spe­cial. It is in her works, where tra­di­tional weav­ing tech­niques com­bine with toy sol­diers, zip­pers and neon plas­tic chains, and it is also in how she drawls, “Oh sugar, don’t ever be afraid to be your­self.”

“It sounds like a cliche but it is so true, ev­ery­one should be able to feel like they can be hon­est to them­selves,” says Anne.

The first edi­tion of Anne’s Free­dom se­ries marks a tran­si­tion of sorts in her artis­tic jour­ney.

“Free­dom stands for some­thing greater than just the right to act how­ever I choose – it stands for se­cur­ing to ev­ery­one an equal op­por­tu­nity for life, lib­erty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness,” she adds.

It is this de­sire for free­dom that took her from “a com­fort­able life to a far more ful­fill­ing one”.

“Our true self is who we re­ally are when we let go of all the sto­ries, la­bels and judg­ments that we have placed upon our­selves. It is who we nat­u­rally are without the masks of pre­ten­sion,” she says.

No doubt, the Sul­tanate In The Eye, Monar­chy At Heart ex­hi­bi­tion at KL’s Richard Koh Fine Art sym­bol­ises a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of things in her world, but it is also tells a tale of be­ing brave enough to strike out in un­charted ter­ri­tory.

The space Anne, 44, now finds her­self in is one where she shakes off the shack­les and isn’t afraid to take flight.

“When I started weav­ing in my univer­sity days, I was com­pletely ab­sorbed in the colours and pat­terns. But I was also very con­cerned about con­tain­ing it all within a frame,” re­calls Anne, who holds a de­gree in art and de­sign (tex­tile de­sign) from UiTM.

A few years ago, she broke free of con­ven­tion by think­ing out­side the box – quite lit­er­ally. She did away with the rigid frame and straight lines, and ven­tured into the great un­known.

With this show, she is fi­nally spread­ing her wings.

Sul­tanate In The Eye, Monar­chy At Heart, fea­tures elab­o­rate eight floor and wall-mounted in­stal­la­tions that merge metic­u­lously woven seg­ments with ev­ery­day ob­jects such as nuts and bolts, wash­ers, rakes and shov­els, taps, sieves and cut­lery.

They are ma­jes­tic and im­pos­ing, some of the works stop­ping just shy of three me­tres in height. But above all, they are vi­brant, colour­ful and har­mo­nious, the many dif­fer­ent el­e­ments com­bin­ing to form a ra­di­ant whole.

“These works come from a place of to­tal free­dom. In cre­at­ing them, I fol­lowed my heart, went with the flow, lis­tened to what speaks strongly to me. In ear­lier works I was of­ten un­sure, but now all of that self-doubt that is a thing of the past,” ex­plains Anne.

True free­dom, to her, also means be­ing able to open your heart to things around you and be re­cep­tive to op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“One has to col­lect the lit­tle things that come to you in life and learn how to con­nect them. Your ex­pe­ri­ences, your knowl­edge, love and friend­ships ... they all come to­gether for form the fab­ric of life,” she says.

“In my case, I con­nect tex­tures and colours by weav­ing, and as a whole, they chan­nel the com­plex­i­ties of life,” she adds.

The KL-based Anne shows off her ex­per­tise in tra­di­tional weav­ing tech­niques here; it is what forms the foun­da­tion of each sculp­ture, promi­nently lo­cated smack in the mid­dle, at the heart of it all.

“It is weav­ing that forms the core of my work, this part of our cul­ture that I em­brace whole­heart­edly. But by com­bin­ing do­mes­tic para­pher­na­lia with a tra­di­tional weav­ing tech­nique. I be­lieve that I’ve man­aged to in­ject a new life into these seem­ingly ba­nal ma­te­ri­als as they morph into some­thing in­cred­i­ble,” she says.

Anne is cer­tain that Sul­tanate In The Eye, Monar­chy At Heart is just the be­gin­ning of her Free­dom se­ries, that it is merely the start of a great ad­ven­ture.

“I have a feel­ing that as I con­tinue to ex­plore, these in­stal­la­tions will just in­crease in size and num­ber. Deep in­side me I know there is more to come, be­cause I have so much more to give,” she says.

Anne is cur­rently show­ing her other works at the Yoko­hama Tri­en­nale in Ja­pan. Other group ex­hi­bi­tions this year in­clude Di Mana (Where Are) YOUng? at the Na­tional Vis­ual Arts Gallery, Art Stage Sin­ga­pore, Art Cen­tral Hong Kong and VOLTA 13 in Basel, Switzer­land.

Sul­tanate In The Eye, Monar­chy At Heart is on at Richard Koh Fine Art, 229, Jalan Maarof in KL till Aug 23. Open: Tues­days to Satur­days, 10am-7pm. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 03-2095 3300 or visit www.rk­fin­eart.com.

— AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Anne pos­ing with one of her sculp­tures in Sul­tanate In The Eye, Monar­chy At Heart.

Anne’s at­ten­tion to de­tail is im­mac­u­late as seen in Free­dom 5 ... To Love (rat­tan sticks, yarns, wash­ers, rakes, PVC chains, home (kitchen and gar­den) uten­sils and sta­tionery, 2017) — Pho­tos: AZMAN GHANI / The Star

Free­dom 1 ... To B Me.

‘I have put my­self into the cre­ation of these works. Now it is time for you to cre­ate your own story and see where it will take you,’ says Anne about giv­ing view­ers the op­por­tu­nity to ‘com­mu­ni­cate’ with her works.

Quirky as it sounds, Anne makes no apolo­gies com­bin­ing ev­ery­day para­pher­na­lia with tra­di­tional weav­ing tech­niques in her sculp­tures.

A close-up of Free­dom 7 ... Of Ex­pres­sion.

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