Sunday, February 5, 2017

Making Ipoh an arts city

Artistic family: Mother and daughter team, Anita and 14-year-old Hawa (left)
discussing their art which they sell during the weekends at the riverfront in Ipoh.


The Perak Government hopes to transPORT visitors with the state’s rich artistic talent by providing not only a platform for its youth to showcase their works but also support to hone their craft.
UNLIKE most teenagers, 14-year-old Hawa Kusyerie spends her weekends helping her mother man a craft stall along the Kinta riverfront in Ipoh.
Hawa has inherited her mother’s talent in art so the mother and daughter team sell their works of art – from postcards, stones, key chains, fridge magnets to paintings – along the promenade of the river, opposite a popular hotel in the state.
The riverfront, flanked by two bridges over the river, is pretty, especially at night when it is lit up with coloured lights. At night during the weekends, you can find buskers belting out tunes there, next to youngsters selling comic books and other fun stuff like dreamcatchers, clothes, bags, shoes and T-shirts.
People, young and old, like to hang out there. And like most places in Malaysia, there are food stalls.
“I am interested in fine arts. I want to be a fashion designer,” says Hawa, as she shows two of the postcards she has made.
Last year, Hawa painted a mural for her school SMK Datuk Haji Mohd Taib in Chemor, Perak, with these inspiring words “I Colour My Future Here.”
Her mother, Anita Abdul Aziz, teaches art in the same school.
Anita used to live in Kuala Lumpur, but when the economic crisis of 1999 made it hard for her to sell her art pieces and paintings, she moved back home to Perak.
In Ipoh, she says, business at the riverfront can sometimes be good with over RM100 in sales, but some days, they sell nothing. “We just enjoy coming out here and displaying our work,” says Anita.
At a stall a few metres away, 29-year-old graphic designers Mior Abdul Muneer and Abu Huzaifah Saharuddin (Huzza) show off their passion for comics in the comic books they have created and published themselves – selling at RM5 each.
“We draw our comics online and we have quite a lot of followers.
“Some want physical copies of our comics, that is why we have printed them and are selling them here.
“We don’t make much money from it, which is why we have our graphic design jobs. But this is a hobby and good for us in terms of exposure,” says Mior.
The two won the best doodle in a competition in Jakarta two years ago.
Hawa, Anita, Mior and Abu Huzaifah are all part of the Perak government’s initiative to develop the state’s pool of talent.
The programme is called People of Remarkable Talent or PORT in short.
PORT general manager Zamari Muhyi is ambitious.
He wants to turn Ipoh into the arts city of Malaysia.
And he is just getting started by making the Ipoh riverfront come alive again – with art, craft, music and photography.
“We want to change things and make this place active. We are giving youths the space and platform. They don’t need to pay any rent.”
PORT is renting two shops by the riverfront where the locals can put their works of art, T-shirts and whatever they have made to sell, without PORT taking a cut from the sales.
“All the money they earn from the sales goes back to them.”
PORT also organises “port-able” roadshows into the rural areas of the state to bring art to the people.
“We bring our artists and vendors from Ipoh to these areas. It is at zero cost for them because we pay for their petrol and transport, and provide the accommodation and all their meals.
“We are doing this so that the interior areas, not just Ipoh, can benefit from the exposure to the arts.
“As we go down to the kampungs, we find that people there are slowly starting to come out and show their talent. Before this, they had no platform to show off their talent.
“Just take Pangkor. When we first started two years ago, there was only one group of buskers. But today there are five groups. We are even giving them free equipment so that they can busk.”
PORT gets a yearly budget of RM1.25mil, but this is not enough for all that they have planned.
The port-able roadshows into the rural areas of Perak cost RM12,000 to RM15,000 to organise.
But for Zamari, it is all worth it.
“We want to encourage youths to get involved in the arts. We are giving them the platform and space. And they don’t need to worry about the money.”
Zamari says PORT also gathered a number of Perak’s budding singers who have original compositions, and sent them into the studio to record their songs. The recordings were compiled into an album which they have given out for free to help these singers gain exposure and make a name for themselves.
“Rock music in Malaysia is born in Perak. The state is full of talented singers. SYJ, Awie and Black are all from Perak.”
Last year, Perak organised the country’s first Malaysia International Reggae Festival, which had participants from Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Zamari says they hope to make the Reggae Festival a yearly affair in Ipoh to draw international crowds, much like the Rainforest Musical Festival in Sarawak and the Jazz Festival in Miri.
“This year, the Reggae Festival will be held in September, in the grounds of Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah. We are going to have participants from Jamaica coming. And the festival is free of charge.”
He says PORT wants to develop all types of talent in the arts.
He believes Perak is full of talented people.
“Around 70% of the cartoonists in the country are Perakians.
“Lat is from Perak. Many of the cartoonists in Gila GilaLengkuas and Uchot are from Perak too.
“They couldn’t survive in Perak so they ran to KL.”
Another event on PORT’s calender is their Pekan Katun where they hope to gather the cartoonists from all over the country.
Last year, PORT organised one with a bit of a twist. They held a 24-hour Scariest Comic Challenge at Kellie’s Castle where 30 cartoonists took part in drawing from 11am till 11am the next day, spending the night at the castle.
He says movies too are in Perak’s DNA. The late Yasmin Ahmad was from Ipoh, as is actor/director Afdlin Shauki, while Lat’s brother, Mamat Khalid, is also a well-known screenwriter and film director.
Then there is drumming; Zamari says drummers from Perak won a special award at an international drums and arts festival. At an international graffiti challenge in Brunei, those from the state took second and third place.
“People are not aware of this. So we are creating awareness now in the state and telling the younger generation ‘Come up, come up, show us your talent and let us boost it.’
“Our people are a bit malu-malu (on the shy side). So it might take a while. But I believe with our hard work, Ipoh can become the arts city of the country.”

-thestar online.
http://portipoh.com.my/about.html

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