Category Archives: George Town

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)

Eight years and growing from strength to strength #gtf2017

The 8th edition of the George Town Festival (GTF ) opened last night at Dewan Sri Pinang with an upbeat convergence of artistes from near and far around the region of Southeast Asia at SVARA ASEAN. This musical showcase was a celebration of the artistic pride in the region, and a tribute to the sounds of Southeast Asia,  featuring six of the region's acclaimed singers and musicians, filled with mesmerising melodies and a wide repertoire of music genres. Local artistes – including Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi  who were proud flag bearers of the Jalur Gemilang – presented classic hits and collaborated on some medleys with award- winning Phillipine Madrigal Singers, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) and PPO’s Jazz Band.

Also featured were Indonesian flautist Gus Teja and soulful Anchee from Thailand who paid tribute to her late king in song.


The opening weekend of GTF continues today, with generous ASEAN flavours, arts, designs, tastes and sounds. ASEAN Design Forum to be held on July 29, brings together Southeast Asia’s leading luminaries in design – Eric Bunnag Booth, Rachaporn Choochuey, Kenneth Cobonpue, Priscilla Shunmugam and Sali Sasaki.

This informative and illuminating nexus of ideas is said to delve into the status quo and future of design, space making, and the creative industries in Southeast Asia.

A market of ASEAN assortments at the Penang State Museum awaits everyone today and tomorrow in the grounds of the Penang State Museum.

'Macam- macam ASEAN' , is a craft and creative market, a tattoo studio, barber shop, live musical performances, wayang kulit and more. This free two-day fun event is an all-ages showcase in line with thisyear’s festival’s Southeast Asian focus.

At this craft market, go spoil yourself with ethically-made tea towels, shoes, tote bags, scarves, jewellery, pouches, tattoos, pillows, bowls, notebooks, and postcards featuring colourful, authentic motifs by collectives from Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and our very own charming Kuching (from where Jit and friends have flown over some exquisite kebaya pieces and also fine beadwork).

A standout event at Macam-macam ASEAN is being touted to be Laksa of the Region (LOTR), which is a convergence of culinary delights and will see 24 laksa makers gather under one roof to cook up distinctive aromatic flavours representing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia’s very own Penang assam laksa, Johor and Sarawak laksa, Nyonya laksa and laksam. 

For the ongoing weeks, other highlights of GTF 2017 include The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel, CELL, the gravity-defying acrobatic act of A Simple Space, Jérôme Bel’s GALA, The Human Voice, Hakanai –an animated choregraphy by Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne of France and lots more. Month-long exhibitions include Noted, Jimmy Nelson’s Before They Pass Away, Yangon Echoes, Portraits of George Town and the mysterious Secret Gardens “Revisited”.

GTF this year is partnering M-ND Media Distribution SEA and FaveKad Sdn Bhd. M-ND is a technology company that revolutionises the way brands and consumers connect with each other through multi-sensory experiences, FaveKad (a start-up technology company owned by George Lee), which aims to give everyone a reason to connect by sending electronic greeting cards with an Asian flair.

The complete festival guide is available at http://www.georgetownfestival.com or simply follow-the-fest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

(Some images courtesy of George Town Festival)

Joined by the Crown

"A conversation over where to have lunch was the worm of an idea for this art show.

"An email exchange with a friend threw up meeting places like Penang Road, DhobyGhaut and Cantonment Road until he said Tanjung Pagar– and it dawned on me, that he wasn’t in Penang but in Singapore!"

These are Penang-born journalist Sharon Cheah's quotes on what inspired her to curate the George Town Festival 2017- commissioned 'Joined by the Crown: Parallel Visions in Penang and Singapore. '

She describes her efforts as a group show featuring nine artworks by Singapore and Malaysian artists, and an exhibition which is meant to celebrate the long and deep ties between Penang and her southern isle "sista", Singapore.

"This art show celebrates and investigates those ties – from the past and also in the present," Cheah adds.

The works vary from illustrated sketches to multimedia work like oral interviews and performed narratives.

Cheah and Denise Eng did the legwork to find out the histories of some 15 road names that you can find in both Penang and Singapore, and will illustrate this on a piece of calico from India – a significant reminder that many of the buildings in the two former colonies were built by Indian convict labour.
The participating artists are among those interviewed by Cheah over the course of writing about the arts for the Singapore Business Times since 2000, whose approaches and practices she firmly believes, can cast an artistic light on Penang and Singapore’s symbiotic links.


The artists are said to have responded to this theme that looked at Penang and Singapore's symbiotic relationship from the time they were governed under the Bengal Presidency in British India in 1826 till now.

Joined by the Crown: Parallel Visions in Penang and Singapore
Art exhibition, a George Town Festival commission
Dates: 29 Jul – 3 Sep 2017
Venue: Whiteaways Arcade, Lebuh Beach, Penang
(Images courtesy of Sharon Cheah)

Additional images from opening day …

Art with hope and a conscience

Fresh off the (vacation) boat and ready to sail into George Town Festival 2017 (GTF 2017), Rebecca Duckett has been working around the clock with her artsy and nature-inspired pieces.

She is one of several women artists from Korea, Taiwan, the USA and Malaysia who are participating in the International Women's Arts Festival, which this year is part of GTF's 'Week on Women' programming.

You will be able to feast your eyes on 90 pieces of paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, and performances during this exhibition.

My exposure to Rebecca the artist was in the early 1980s when I was given my first Owen Rebecca Designs t-shirt from a stall at Central Market, in Kuala Lumpur.

My university friends were soon given a taste of Malaysia's flora, fauna and heritage via her t-shirts, as I privately placed Rebecca in the league of the celebrated Australian designer and artist, Ken Done.

"My paintings are very influenced by flora and fauna, nature and what I see on my travels," says the mother of three, who describes her work as "essentially images of the fantasies in my head and thoughts.

I like to think of them as hopeful and positive. "

Her messages of hope and positivity are self-described as spontaneous and in a style where she simply "just starts."

"Then I paint and work on them until I feel they are complete. I often keep a thought in my head and over a period of time, the urge to create the image becomes totally clear. They are also very much like entries into a diary. Each of them comes from a very clear experience that I have had, whether while I am traveling, or from something I've seen or felt, and what these have made me then think about over a period of time, she notes.

Her painting 'Like moths to a flame' for instance, came as an idea in the Kei Islands as she checked in early morning at Tual airport.

"We had just voyaged from Kalabahi in Alor all across through the line of Forgotten Islands to Tual. All along the way there were butterflies flying across the sea during the day, and at night, moths coming into our lights on our boat, as we sailed through the night. Even when no land was in sight. Their instinct to move or migrate was strong.

"In Tual that early morning, the bright lights of the airport had attracted thousands of moths. There had obviously been a huge hatching of a few species of crysalis all at the same time and the whole airport was littered with dead and still writhing bodies of the most beautiful moths."

"It was during a period when so many refugees were dying in the seas of the Mediterranean and the media was full of these distraught stories. A thought popped into my head that the moths were like the world's beleaguered human migrants and refugees. Pushed by the wretched wars to move, refugees instinctively move 'to the light' hoping for a better future but many of them, like the moths, struggling to push into the light only crash and burn. In the case of the struggling refugees and migrants, they tragically sink and drown. The few who make it 'through the flame' keep giving hope to the rest," Rebecca further says.

Humans, she adds, not only impact on the precious species of the natural world but on the fate of other fellow humans by messing with the natural balance. Wars, light pollution, deforestation, pollution in our seas etc. All earths species are impacted by this. How many will survive?

"The painting is pretty and everyone thinks moths going to a light at night, looks beautiful. But it is as destructive as it is beautiful. We need to try to remember that survival is after all about balance.

'Morphing' is a painting about how species become part of and morph into their natural environment. Man these days seems to be very successful at getting rid of our precious natural environment. I for one, would be very happy to morph back into our beautiful tropical forests, go back to a time when we respected what our environment gave us, and hope that it is still around for my grandchildren to see. It's about hope."

GTF 2017's Space of Time – International Women Arts Forum is from July 27-Aug 28. The exhibition will run concurrently daily from 11am-6pm (at The Whiteaways Arcade) and entrance is free.

(Images courtesy of Rebecca Duckett)

KebayaKraze

She lived overseas and was part of the corporate world for over a decade. Petite Jit Lau's last position was as regional director for
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Asia where she spent her working days as a derivatives lawyer / banker.

"I returned to my husband's home state of Sarawak, only to discover that there was no job for me here as my area of expertise and specialization were non-existent in small-town Kuching," says the mother of one who hails from Kuala Lumpur.

Her days in Kuching were spent attending parties where she met beautiful women wearing stunning kebayas to official and social functions.

Jit drew inspiration from her husband's aunt, Datin Amar Valerie Wong Kui Inn (wife of Sarawak's former deputy chief minister Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min).

"Datin Amar Valerie who is 93 lives in kebayas and wears them at home and outside for all occasions," says Jit.

Her love for all things Nyonya and kebaya soon saw Jit helping friends choose fabrics and designs for their kebayas.

She then decided to put her time to good use by helping friends buy kebayas. Shocked at the exhorbitant price tags she saw on many pieces, she began sourcing for kebayas and selling them at reasonable prices.

In a bid to reach out to the younger generation and inspire them to wear kebayas while making the garment more accessible and affordable to more wearers in Sarawak 'KebayaKraze' the business, was born this year.

Her Instagram handle @kebayakraze88 serves as her online store for now where she offers various label categories of kebayas. Also found in limited numbers, are mini kebayas for the little nyonyas like her adorable toddler, Isa.

Jit is grateful to photographer pal Anne Kuek and "model" friends Hallie Chan, Bec Wee and Liz Fong who gamely helped her launch her new venture on social media.

"I did not use real models as I wanted everyone to realize that the kebaya makes everyone look great in it."!!

Catch Jit and pick up a top (or more!) from her classy kebaya collection during the George Town Festival at the "Macam-Macam Asean" bazaar which runs from July 29-30 at the Penang State Museum on Macalister Road.

(Images courtesy of Jit Lau)