In Penang, a mental picture of a trishaw peddler is easy to conjure up.
Depicted in a popular street art mural on Penang Road – one of the largest in the state – and more recently, on a 10m-tall art installation near Prangin Mall as part of the Penang International Container Festival, trishaws and their riders are hardly an unfamiliar sight - either in art or in person.
So, when artist Farida Evans undertook an oil painting of trishaws in George Town, she initially thought little beyond the beauty of the old passenger carts of yesteryear.
With bright colours and a popular corner of Armenian Street as the backdrop, Evans’ finished artwork offers a street scene with a certain calm in these difficult times.
“During the MCO (movement control order), I found time for painting. On the evening that I happened to finish my trishaw oil painting, I saw a post from Johnson Lim, a friend of mine, who was organising food parcels for trishaw riders (in George Town) as they were struggling to survive because of the MCO and the fall in tourist numbers, ” says Evans, who heads the art programme at an international school in Balik Pulau.
“It was obvious to me that I had ‘idealised’ a popular tourist attraction. However, my subject matters were suffering due to lack of income, ” she adds.
Motivated to put her most recent project to good use, Evans decided to attempt her first charity auction with the trishaw rider community as the beneficiaries.
With the support and help of several other artists in the state like Esther Geh and Ivan Alexander Francis Gabriel, an exhibition/auction Raising Money for Penang Trishaw Drivers has been put together at Gusto Cafe in Tanjung Bungah.
It was launched on July 17 and will run until 8pm on July 24.
Artwork from a total of eight exhibitors is on display and available for auction.
The pieces can also be viewed online through Evans’ Facebook page The Art Room.
The collection includes The Black Lake, an intricate giclee print by ERYN, the heartwarming Snow Monkey Mother And Child by Nasir Nadzir and Tina Lee Degreef’s abstract splash in Sip The Wine, Pour The Acrylic!.
“The artworks are not all trishaws given the tight time frame (of this project), but all proceeds will go to the riders, ” says Evans.
Geh, an exhibiting artist in the event, says it sometimes takes little interactions to remind us of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on different people.
“There are so many pockets of the community that we sometimes don’t consciously think about. We know they exist as we see them but on a conscious level, we don’t realise how severely they are in need at this time.
"Every little bit helps and I hope that whatever we raise from this auction can help, even if it’s just a bit,” concludes Geh.