Category Archives: Style

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)

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)

Charlie and the CSR Colour Factory

He brings comic relief to those having a bad hair day by giving them classy haircuts and listening to their woes. He also never fails to give them  his take of the world and continues coming up with all kinds of thoughtful gems.

Charles Stephen Ramachandran (CSR) is also a gentle yoga instructor who always makes his students feel grounded and at peace.

In seeking his own sense of peace, Charles takes acrylic paint to paper and has taught himself to bring art alive with colour and masterful strokes.

The upcoming and  month-long George Town Festival in Penang (beginning at the end of July) will showcase one CSR piece, as the artist joins some fellow artists in showcasing their work.

Helloooooo Kuching!

The man who placed George Town on the world festival map is now taking his crazy brand of style and fun to Borneo.

Joe Sidek, the director of the George Town Festival wants Kuching to rock on the fringes of the internationally-acclaimed Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in July.

He is curating and presenting the Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) and promises it to be a 10-day (7-16 July) spectacle of the best which Sarawak has to offer by way of art, food, fashion and music. 

“The festival happens right in the bustling capital town of Kuching in Sarawak and will provide the ultimate lead up to the annual Rainforest World Music Festival. 

“The inaugural Rainforest Fringe Festival will also give prominence to Sarawak’s rich indigenous arts and culture, giving festival goers a true sense of the beauty and energy of the state, its people and rainforest,” says Joe.

Festival-goers will rediscover Sarawak through film screenings, fashion showcases, photography exhibitions, art and craft bazaars and other displays of Sarawak’s highly underrated trove of local talents.

The Old Court House in Kuching will serve as the venue for most events – such as a craft and vintage market, talks, exhibitions and various movie screenings – tied to the fringe festival.
The “Sarawak: Theatre of Clothes” fashion gala will showcase exceptional and multi-talented fashion and accessories’ designers originating from Sarawak.

In upholding their Sarawakian roots, these designers such as Datuk Tom Abang Saudi, Eric Ong, Ramsay Ong, Tanoti and Neng Kho Razali have made their mark on local and international high fashion runaways and will bring to the festival, their show-stopping works.

A special fashion treat awaiting those coming to the fringe festival would be Singapore-based contemporary womenswear label Ong Shunmugam. The label owner is Malaysian-born Priscilla Shunmugam, whose work is designed and made across Asia and offers ready-to-wear ranges and bespoke designs. She is working with `Pua Kumbu’ the traditional patterned multi-coloured ceremonial cloth used by the Ibans and in Sarawak for the fringe festival.

“Music is the way nature speaks to us. It is found in the splash of a waterfall, the rumble of the wind and the flutter of a bird’s wings …These are our music; it means Sada Kamek in the Iban language.”

The Rainforest Fringe Festival will open with an official concert `Sada Kamek’ at the Kuching Amphitheatre, with a line-up of Sarawak-born performers like Dayang Nurfaizah, Noh Salleh, Tony Eusoff, Nading Rhapsody, At Adau, Pete Kallang, Alena Murang and Matthew Ngau.

(Images courtesy of Joe Sidek and the Rainforest Fringe Festival)

M is for Massage and (Jo) Malone

It’s one of those treats which money cannot buy. And this is simply because the quintessentially British Jo Malone London does not charge you for their oh-so-blissfully relaxing (20 minute) hand and arm massages (yes, it’s free BUT by invitation only).

Betsy and I ambled over to the brand’s first boutique in Penang this evening, The generous invite on thick and creamy paper said to bring along a friend  (Betsy) and we were welcomed by the gracious Lillian and equally warm and familiar Carmen.  Lime infused water and a black velvet Jo Malone complimentary pouch were offered (to store our respective watches and other jewellery items) before we submitted ourselves to a relaxing and scented journey.

Lillian used a latte whisk to form a warm frothy hand wash in a fragrance of our choice (mine being grapefruit, although my first introduction to the brand by Bina years ago, has had me hooked on their signature Lime Basil & Mandarin).  She wiped it off gently with a warm towel, leaving the skin feeling softer and noticeably lighter.

Lillian’s firm yet soft hands are the perfect ad for the body products and the incredible layers of scents  combined, and so telling of the brand which is synonymous with a bespoke style of service.

We were waved off in a shower of multiple sprays, and continued to feel cocooned in the warmth of this British fragrance for the ensuing hours spent as mall rats.