Malaysian artist's 'kain pelikat' works enter UK's prestigious Ashmolean Museum collection


Haffendi's 'Family Archive (Midday) I' (oil and archival ink on photographic paper, 2020). Photo: Haffendi Anuar

Two artworks by Malaysian artist Haffendi Anuar are now in Britain's historic Ashmolean Museum’s collection, after he won the museum’s Vivien Leigh Prize.

This prize is offered for a 2D work of art on paper, by a student at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University. The winning submission is chosen by the Ashmolean’s curator of modern and contemporary art. The artwork will then be included in the museum’s collection.

Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Engalnd is the world's first university museum and Britain's first public museum. Its first building was erected in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities that English antiquary/politician Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

“It is great to leave artworks behind in Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum, knowing that they will be in the collection long after I leave Oxford. It makes me feel truly connected to the city and university," says Haffendi.

'It is great to leave artworks behind in Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum, knowing that they will be in the collection long after I leave Oxford. It makes me feel truly connected to the city and university, ' says Haffendi. Photo: Eiffel Chong 'It is great to leave artworks behind in Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum, knowing that they will be in the collection long after I leave Oxford. It makes me feel truly connected to the city and university, ' says Haffendi. Photo: Eiffel Chong

"It is also great to be a part of a collection in which I admire and have been inspired a lot by. During my study, I visited the museum at least once every two weeks to do research and to find inspiration. I have admiration for a museum of its quality, especially in a relatively small city like Oxford, ” he adds.

He has just completed his MFA at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University in England this year.

His two artworks Family Archive (Midday) I and Family Archive (Midday) III are archival ink photographic prints of photographs from his family archive at his parents’ place in Seremban.

“One depicts my brother and I with my dad in our childhood home in KL and another one is a scene in which my uncle was hanging out with his friends in his bachelor pad. With Family Archive, I wanted to highlight the 'performativity' of the kain pelikat in these photos of social situations by masking out the background with oil paint and leaving some areas out. Also, I am in a way thinking about the relationship of painting with photography, ” he shares.

Haffendi is planning to stay on in Oxford for another year and work towards developing a body of work to show in a solo exhibition at Pembroke College Art Gallery as part of the condition for winning another prize, the Emery Prize, at Oxford University.

“It is great to have another year to push the research and sculptures and develop them into a more cohesive body of work. Then I will possibly move to KL for a bit and then to London, ” he says.

Haffendi was the joint winner for the Battersea Power Station Powerhouse Commission 2017, with his commissioned outdoor sculpture Machines For Modern Living.

Last year, he was featured in the book 100 Sculptors of Tomorrow written by Kurt Beers, the director of London-based Beers gallery.

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