Monday, 23 September 2013

Warna-warna Malaysia!

Colours of Malaysia! 
We had a public holiday for Malaysia Day last week and I spent the whole day dyeing fabrics from several of the plants I had previously tested.
Natural dyes from the RImbun Dahan garden
If you have been following the blog you will know that I have been testing two different types of alum mordants - Potassium aluminium sulphate and Symplocos, a plant bio-accumulator of aluminium. As you can see from the above photo, there are doubles of each fabric type in each colour in the front row. As I had never used the Symplocos before I was really testing it for my own peace of mind to see how it mustered up against PAS. My results above show there is absolutely no difference between the pairs of samples to the naked eye. The fabrics in the back row are more naturally-dyed swatches not included in the tests. During my last month here I will continue dyeing fabrics that will eventually be used for Rimbun-inspired artworks.

I have also been sketching an painting some of the unusual flora in the taman sari

However, for colour you just can't get any better than an art opening, and in particular the opening of the Art Expo Malaysia 2013. Now in its seventh year, it showcases hundreds of artists from all over the world (except Australia) and this year included works by Picasso, Miro, Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst to name a few.
Filipino artist Carlo Gernale and I at the VIP Preview 
I was lucky enough to be invited to the VIP Preview opening through Carlo's friend, Malaysian artist Seah Ze Lin, who had work in the g13 Gallery stand.  Zelin also shows work at Taksu Gallery.

Zelin and his wife in front of his work at g13 gallery stand.
I have to say that my eyes were constantly diverted from the artworks by the colourful and artrageously dressed crowd! However I was inspired by several artists work and the 'bucket men' gouaches by Jui-Pin Chang were drawing a steady crowd.  This one caught my eye for obvious reasons....

Jui-Pin Chan's rendition of Australian $100 note, gouache on P-Tex.

Prior to the opening we were invited to eat at the cutest little cafe in Kuala Lumpur, poco homemade.
poco homemade
This Japanese-inspired cafe is owned by Zelin's wife who makes all the delicious cakes, as well as the quirky artwork and bowerbird collections inside.  I felt like I was back in Gertrude Street, Melbourne or in the Lonsdale Street Traders in Canberra. But better food!
Ice's artworks adorn the walls along with eclectic secondhand treasures.
What better way to finish off this week's blog than with the illuminating display of lanterns at Rimbun Dahan to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The children lead a colourful procession while we sat and ate mooncakes.
Colourful animal lanterns resting beneath the feet of a well-known Australian artist incognito
Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!
Next week I will be travelling to other parts of Malaysia and hoping to find a trace of missing textile designer and entrepreneur Jim Thompson in the Cameron Highlands.

Sehingga minggu depan,


  1. Oh those lanterns are so beautiful when they are lit! What are they made of?
    Here's hoping your visit to the Cameron Highlands is far more mundane than Mr Thompson's! I've recently finished reading Tan Twan Engs Garden of the Evening Mists which is set in the highlands in the years following WW2, definitely recommended.

  2. Thanks Leonie,
    The lanterns are made from cellophane and have a small birthday candle to light them. They are so beautifully made and look great lit up in a procession. There are many theories about Jim Thompson's disappearance so will go on the trail from my hotel to see what seems most likely. I read both of Tan Twan Eng's books and I have to say that they have inspired both my trips to Cameron Highlands, Ipoh and Penang...they give a good insight into the years of Japanese occupation.