Features

Published: Monday June 2, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 3, 2014 MYT 2:16:02 PM

Malaysian graffiti: Street art makes the people come together

One outfit believes that art is for everyone and its benefits for all to enjoy.

Schools and low-cost housing areas aren’t exactly well-known for being bright, breezy places. However, a team of graffiti artists have come together to spruce up these venues, in the hopes of transforming them from drab to exciting with their colourful and tastefully done murals.

Bringing the artists and sponsors, together is art project consultant Christine Ngh, 39. She left her job in the corporate sector after 12 years, and in 2010, set up Bumblebee Consultancy, a creative agency that promotes art and artist collaboration.

“I stumbled upon the graffiti community at the end of 2010 whilst working on DBKL’s first international graffiti festival – KUL Sign 2010. I had the chance to observe and interact with many local and international artists,” says Ngh.

After the DBKL project, she decided to use graffiti as a base to slowly branch out to other aspects of art. “I love to create, explore new things, learn new things and work with different types of people,” says Ngh. “My vision is to bring art everywhere and make it popular, especially in the industry I was previously in – the consumer goods industry.

“We have conducted Gempaknya My School (My School Rocks), a high school graffiti programme, in collaboration with professional artists. We have covered 94 schools nationwide, so far,” she elaborates.

A mural from the Canvas Of Nature project by graffiti artists in collaboration with Bumblebee Consulting.
A mural from the Canvas Of Nature project by graffiti artists in collaboration with Bumblebee Consulting.

Building on that is Gempaknya My Community (GMC) that brings art and social projects from various parties to flat communities, and Canvas Of Nature which encompasses art programmes for nature-related causes. More programmes are in the pipeline.

“Public art is very close to our hearts, as are art projects that have a positive social impact. Also, we want more signature and iconic projects – they are opportunities to show people what we and our artist network can do.”

In 2012 (when the GMC programme was introduced) and last year, Bumblebee held five Klang Valley community-based carnivals at housing projects in Putra Damai (Ara Damansara), Medan Cahaya (Kampung Medan, Old Klang Road), Sri Penara (Salak South), Desa Mentari and Kg Kerinchi (Kuala Lumpur).

A recent art carnival, also Bumblebee’s first for this year, was held in the government flats known as PPR (Projek Perumahan Rakyat) Kg Baru Hicom in Bukit Belimbing, Shah Alam in Selangor.

Ngh and a team of artists – and she works with different artists each time, apart from a pair of regulars – brought a spark of positivity to the place through their art and enrichment activities. Their aim was to engage the community and instil in them the love of art and community service.

“We work with many freelancers and part-timers,” says Ngh.

Art by Orkibal (above) and Raven by artist Katun (below), two of the collaborators for Gempaknya My Community, organised by Bumblebee Consultancy at government housing projects in the Klang Valley.

This time round, the team comprised Julie Wong, Aisyah Baharuddin, Husna Nabila Badarolzaman, Nur Farhanah Saffie, Azhar Osman aka Orkibal, Mohd Hafiz Rahman Abdullah aka Katun, Escape VA (real name: Mohd Zaki Nordin), Nenok and Perol (Farul Idham).

Wong, 38, is an art project manager and co-founder of Bumblebee Consultancy. She started the Canvas Of Nature programme to promote a love for the ocean, and recently, did an ocean-themed art project in rural Sabah.

“We are reaching out to more sponsors, as more sponsors will enable more content, and more content will generate more participation from residents. Currently, the content that is still lacking is related to youth, women, enterprise and new waves of hobbies,” says Wong. “We also welcome more organisations or collectives to join our social enterprise and worthy causes segment to introduce things to the community.”

“Aisyah is a social artist and contributes her talents in educational projects on society, the environment, health and hygiene, and so on,” explains Ngh.

Incidentally, Aisyah, 34, started the Padang Jawa Street Art Festival to bring awareness of social issues in that locale. She is also one of the artists for The Good Malaysian Woman art exhibition which was held recently in Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

Husna and Nur Farhanah, both 24, are in the social enterprise category. They give the community a fresh perspective on life and a sense of what’s happening in their “outside world”. A pre-school teacher, Husna is actively involved in the mobile library called Book Street Shah Alam (Buku Jalanan Shah Alam), which uses literature and art to promote a thinking culture among children.

Drawings and paintings that were done by the community kids on giant canvases were hung around the Book Street booth.

Nur Farhanah is an architecture graduate and founder of KHZNH Studio. She has embarked on a city beautification project – an urban street art project called “Laman Seni 7” – for the Shah Alam City Council.

Nenok, Perol, Escape VA, Katun and Orkibal are professional artists who enjoy working with communities. The graffiti artists worked on a welcome sign and murals with a message – to be mindful of the dengue threat and take steps to eradicate it.

Iskandar Abdul Samad, chairman of Selangor Housing Board, was the guest of honour at the event. He gave his thumbs up for the effort, and expressed the hope of seeing more of such combined efforts to benefit disadvantaged communities.

Bumblebee has lined up a few more art carnivals to give all collaborators the opportunity to engage the public before Ramadhan. They will be making their presence felt at the government housing projects in Seri Semarak, Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur (June 8); Sri Penara in Cheras, KL (June 14); and PPR Kg Muhibbah, Puchong, Selangor (June 21). For more information, contact Christine Ngh (christine.ngh@bumblebee-world.com).

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Art, Gempaknya My Community, Canvas for Nature, Gempaknya My School, street art, malaysian graffiti, graffiti artist

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