Home is where the (he)art is

Built between 1924 and 1926, the Loke Villa along George Town’s sea-fronting Gurney Drive is perhaps the last of the heritage residences lining the prestigious promenade which still serves as a lived-in family bungalow.

Artist and designer Rebecca Wilkinson and her husband David, have been the loving and caring custodians of this house for the past 15 years. Loke Villa was designed by Scottish architect David McLeod Craik and built by Alan Loke.

The cool glazed tiles in the villa’s dining area (found also in the London Underground station) keep the house cool and offer visual impact.

“We are glorified caretakers of a house that we love,” says Rebecca of the lime-washed structure which is also known as the ‘Butterfly House’ or ‘Sunlight House.’

The Anglo-Indian mansion boasts Italian marble, French light fittings and wrought iron from Scotland for its materials, and virtually every corner of the home is a joy to visit and stick one’s nose in!

A peek into one of the guest rooms revealed that the bathrooms have not been changed and it’s enamel long baths are reminders of an era where gracious living, an army of household help, garden parties and sprawling bungalows were the order of the day for the well-heeled.

A stroll into the kitchen spelt nostalgia and a longing for the days when our grandparents occupied homes (not as stately as these) with kitchens like these …

Those who sign up for the ZafigoX Private House Tour this Saturday, Sept 2 at 3pm are in for a treat. The lady of the house is displaying her private textile collection, which includes the most exquisite vintage kebayas and sarongs.

Make a booking by registering at https://zafigox2017.sched.com

Thank you Rebecca, for sharing an afternoon of gracious hospitality, taking us to vintage kebaya heaven and back, and reminding your guests how important it is to maintain heritage integrity.

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The Eurasian Story

What better way to hear stories, discover or rediscover one’s roots and look to ways of preserving a once-glorious past, than through a celebration of culture, music and food?

The rich history of the Penang Eurasians and their significant contributions to the nation will be showcased this weekend through dialogues, the unveiling of a photo gallery, mouth-watering Eurasian cuisine and music.

The Eurasian Heritage Fiesta 2017 will begin on Saturday with a talk at 2pm on “Discover your roots to preserve Eurasian heritage” followed by the unveiling of a photo gallery at 4.30pm at the Penang Eurasian Association (PEA) House, 107-A, Solok Serani (off Jalan Kelawai), Penang.

Although the Eurasians and original residents of Kampung Serani no longer reside as a close-knit and vibrantly-rich Catholic community next door to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus today, the spirit of their music and parties continue to live on in the PEA House.

The fiesta this year is a collaboration between the PEA and organisers of the Eurasian Fiesta and is part of the 8th edition of the George Town Festival.

The Eurasian community is inviting the public to experience its unique ‘Serani’ cuisine and rich musical talents.

“The new photo gallery,” says the event’s organising chairman and former PEA president Datuk Aloysius Gasper, “will be a proud display of our Eurasian presence nationally and not just remain brief references in the history of Penang and the country.”

On Saturday, food lovingly prepared from recipe books of Penang’s Eurasian families and live music will be available from 7pm to midnight, while on Sunday the event is open from 5pm till midnight.

See you for a bite of sugee cake and pineapple tarts or a spread of devil curries and more this weekend at Kampung Serani in Pulau Tikus!

Here’s a take-away of recipes shared by the generous hearts of several Penang Eurasians …

(Images courtesy of Datuk Aloysius Gasper)

Red, yellow, white & blue (cupcakes)

The bake-off fever continues to rage at Flex Malaysia with a special cupcake wars event to celebrate Malaysia’s 60th birthday.

What better way than to party with the nation and each other, than by baking dainty cupcakes, decorating them meticulously in colours found on the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ and then feeding your colleagues and bosses with these creations?

This is precisely what 36 Flex Johor employees did yesterday at the Senai (medical) facility. The lobby and a portion of the first floor had temporarily morphed into a mini bakery where cupcakes ruled the day! Thank you Alex and Ken for working your magic!

The Flex Merdeka Cupcake Wars was all about colour, creativity, cooperation and consumption (of the cakes!)

Judges Stella, Joe, Rebecca & Ed had the enviable task of eating their way through 18 cupcakes (and fears of going into a sugar coma!) which were lovingly baked and decorated by Flex employees from the Johor sites in Senai, Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Skudai.

Theirs was not an easy task as they had to make a second round among all the baking stations set up to be absolutely certain of their deciding votes for the cupcakes.

Val’s decision to acknowledge a surprise category of bakers with an additional mystery prize, is a reflection of Flex’s care and recognition of employees who go the extra mile.

Following very closely to the chosen theme of ‘Colours of Malaysia”, the teams gave their all in attending to the smallest of details, while staying calm and baking on.

The goodwill and new links forged were so apparent when a team had to turn to the other competitors for some extra eggs when theirs became runny and threatened to affect their cupcakes.

Equally heart-warming was seeing a judge help in assisting a team which was having difficulty using an attachment on their baking appliance, while another judge stepped in to assist with the photography set-up.

And the Pensonic products continue to spark joy among all the participating Flex bakers who now have some new baking goodies to call their own.

Happy Birthday, Malaysia!

BFF

The fun and excitement of the George Town Festival 2017 continue on mainland Penang this weekend, with the Butterworth Fringe Festival (BFF).

The exhaustive programme listed below is a reflection of a well-curated festival, where something is offered to everyone.

For the islanders, this is a good excuse as any to enjoy a leisurely ferry crossing over the Penang Channel to check out the BFF acts.

Thank you Masya for The List below:

Angin dan Air

An outdoor, cross-cultural, collaborative show by Zamzuriah Zahari and Liu Yong Sean of Malay Mak Yong and Chinese martial arts to carry out the story of Butterworth fishermen.


 
Shibori
Shibori is a traditional Japanese fabric technique that involves twisting and folding the fabric to create intricate patterns. Organised by Lokalhouz Butterworth. Registration is free.
 
Art Market – Roots Street Art
The top 20+ vendors of Roots Fest make up an independent market collective selling a variety of indie merchandise. Organised by Lokalhouz Butterworth.
 
Roots Street Art Wall Competition
12 artists compete in a 20-hour wall art competition. Artists are allocated individual 8 x 4 feet plywood walls. Winners will be judged by 3 locally-renowned artists.
 
DIY Kaleidoscope Workshop
A craft workshop for kids age 9 and above. Make a handmade kaleidoscope using three pieces of mirrors, a paper towel tube, colourful marbles, and other materials.
 
Cartoon Workshop
Taugeh, Tembakau, and Along from the widely circulated publication Ujang will give a 3 hour free workshop on cartoon drawing. Organised by Lokalhouz Butterworth.
 
Poko Things
A doll painting workshop for both children and adults. Participants paint designs on wooden dolls, similar to Japanese Kokeshi Dolls.  All handmade by Pokothings.


 

Negara Buku
More than 10 independent publishing houses such as Buku Fixi, Lejen Press, Roman Buku will be selling writings in both English and Bahasa Malaysia in a warehouse for 2 days.


 
Mek Mulung
Mek Mulung is a traditional Malay theatre unique to Kedah. Incorporates elements of Mak Yong, Menora and Hadrah. Has a repertoire of 20 stories, although only a few survive today.

Jikey
Jikey is a traditional Malay dance drama popular in Kedah and Perlis. Known as Yike in Cambodia and Likay in Thailand. Developed into secular theatre in the late 19th century.
 
Houz of Barber
One of the members of Lokalhouz, Houz of Barber was established in 2015. Collaborated with Roots Fest in 2016 to organise The Roots Barber Festival in Butterworth.
 
Silat Dulang
Originating from Melaka, an entertaining and educational martial arts performance chronicling the battle between legendary warriors, Hang Jebat and Hang Tuah.
 
Potehi – Kisah Pulau Pinang
Ombak-Ombak Art STUDIO’s Potehi group presents a tale of love and friendship employing traditional Hokkien Potehi glove puppets. Directed by ethnomusicologist Prof Tan Sooi Beng and young puppeteer Marcus Lim.
 
Penang Dhol Blasters
The Penang Dhol Blasters are known for their high-intensity traditional double-headed punjabi drums called dhols. They have taken part in many cultural events in Penang.
 
Konsert Kopi-Tiam
Konsert Kopi-Tiam will feature the talents of three generations of Penangites performing in English, Malay, Hokkien and Tamil. Each musical set is a mini variety concert of 90 to 120 minutes.
 
The Drum Roll
An ethno/fusion/world music drum performance by Eng Bok, followed by a communal drum circle with public involvement. No prior drumming experience required.
 
Pete Kallang
Singing professionally for four years now, Pete Kallang believes music has the ability to transcend borders and races. Channeling the legendary likes of Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra.
 
Dolphin Creative

Diego – The Chaplin Show: Diego is a multi-talented impressionist whose acclaimed portrayal of Charlie Chaplin has charmed audiences worldwide.


 
Great Dave: Great Dave started performing at the tender age of 14 in Covent Garden. His specialty is mixing high-level circus skills with comedy.


 
Jack Flash: The Jack Flash show is a comedy stunt show that focuses on fun and physical comedy. Featuring knife juggling and
handstands.

JP Koala: Medieval axes, cute cuddly toy koalas and comedy chaos come together to produce an entertaining display of skill and improvised performance.


 
A Simple Space
One of Australia’s hottest and most original circus ensembles. In this award-winning show, 7 young acrobats push themselves to their physical limits.


 
360 Allstars
A phenomenal physical performance exploring all forms of rotation, 360 ALLSTARS connects the street with the elite to deliver a radical urban circus.


 
String Fling
String Fling! is a signature marionette performance by Frankie. This brand new production features the latest celebrity marionettes in the wonderful world of string puppetry.
 
Urbanights Film Screening
Described by the New York Times as “worth fighting your way through a crowd to see”, Gary Hustwit’s Urbanized explores the issues and strategies behind designing cities.
 
Urbanights Film Screening
The Human Scale by Andreas Møl Dalsgaard questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people in the center of equations.
 
Urbanights Film Screening – Purge
A documentary about the dedicated and hardworking labourers who have contributed to the building of a city sewage system for nearly half a century.
 
Star Sanctuary Seberang Perai Photography Exhibition
Exhibition of semi-finalists' photographs submitted to the Star Sanctuary Seberang Perai Photography competition. This showcase reveals the hidden talents of Seberang Perai citizens
 
Temple of Colours Art Sculpture
Organised by BYG Architects, Temple of Colours is an art installation in cube form that reflects Butterworth’s rich arts, culture, and heritage. Easily identifiable by people from all walks of life.
 
Buttercan
Butterworth Also Can or Buttercan is a programme that aims to build creative communities in Butterworth by providing training, organising workshops, and providing opportunities and for Penang’s performing artists.

(Images courtesy of George Town Festival)

Family, Friends, Festivals and notebooks

Notebooks have been used by reporters through the ages to document the lives and journeys of people they meet and events they witness.

Even in this high-tech age where mobile devices ranging from phones, tablets and laptops have sometimes replaced the much revered notebook, that lil (sometimes black) book remains a staple for all journalists.

“If you end up not having electricity or a phone to document a story, the notebook will always be there for you to capture it all,” says photo-journalist SC Shekar who has collaborated with New York Times writer Chen May Yee for a photography exhibition called NOTED.

The exhibition is part of this year’s edition of the George Town Festival where selected journalists from both home and abroad, along with one of the classic tools of their trade (read: notebooks) are being celebrated.

It was fun hanging out with family and friends in a sea of past and present journos and be reminded that one of the greatest jobs on earth is to be on the fringes of history, report it and know what a difference one has made.

My cousin Leslie, my former colleague Anis, and friends like Nades, Kay Tat and Jahabar are fine examples of journalists who in their own way, have enriched the lives of Malaysians and those abroad by shaking things up not simply for the sake of selling newspapers or expanding the readership of the media platforms they represent.

NOTED runs from 28 July – 3 September from 11am-6pm daily at the Whiteaways Arcade in George Town.

(Black and white images courtesy of SC Shekar and George Town Festival)

GT80

This posting speaks for itself via the beautifully-crafted illustrations of a very talented young lady, Vanessa Ho.

The watercolour illustrator was commissioned by George Town Festival (GTF) director Joe Sidek to produce this darling little travel journal called GT80.

It lists the top 80 favourites of GTF, in terms of places to go, things to do, people to see and dishes to eat in George Town.

If there is one souvenir you should buy (RM30 each), during this edition of the GTF, it's this lil brown book which makes an invaluable guide for anyone pounding the streets of George Town or those overseas who pine for their beloved Penang.

Here's why ….

You get to rediscover childhood favourites, be they people, food or places or discover new ones and grow to love them.


Copies of the GT80 illustrated travel journal are available at the GTF office (86, Lebuh Armenian, George Town) during office hours.

(All images – but one – are courtesy of George Town Festival)