Deaf artist celebrates Malaysia Day by giving his batik art a street edge


For the 'PMC by Lim Anuar' collection, Lim painted a canvas of five Malaysian women - Malay, Chinese, Indian Iban and Kadazan - representing some of the different races and cultures in Malaysia. Photo: Pestle & Mortar Clothing

This Malaysia Day, deaf artist Lim Anuar will be seeing his signature batik works going beyond the canvas.

He has teamed up with streetwear brand Pestle & Mortar Clothing for a limited edition series called PMC By Lim Anuar.

This initiative, featuring Lim's artwork on a bowling shirt, T-shirt and shorts, is a great way to celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of our heritage and culture. The series also promises to introduce Lim to a whole new audience.

"Digitising batik in the form of streetwear is going to ignite that new interest in batik wearing," says Lim, who studied under renowned Penang-based batik artist Datuk Tay Mo Leong.

For the unity-themed PMC By Lim Anuar collection, Lim painted a canvas of five Malaysian women - Malay, Chinese, Indian Iban and Kadazan - representing some of the different races and cultures in Malaysia.

During these pandemic times, Lim Anuar recognises the need to adapt and broaden his reach as a batik painter. Photo: Lim Anuar During these pandemic times, Lim Anuar recognises the need to adapt and broaden his reach as a batik painter. Photo: Lim Anuar

Through his works, Lim is known for depicting traditional life and kampung scenes, family, femininity, handicraft and everyday Malaysians.

“This project is a great way to reintroduce the beauty and intricacies of batik to young Malaysians who may not have necessarily grown up with batik. As we progress forward, it is easy to lose touch with our tradition and culture. My artwork used in a streetwear series is one way to get more people excited about batik,” says the Petaling Jaya-based Lim, who has more than 30 exhibitions to his name.

Lim, whose batik art influences include the late Ismail Mat Hussin and Tan Thean Song, says with his contemporary hand drawn batik technique (as opposed to the traditional metal blocks prints), he is able to achieve “exclusive designs of multicoloured shades”.

“Improvements and modifications to the process of hand drawn batik have transformed batik into an art form (fine art) of a myriad styles and forms,” explains Lim, 51.

For the PMC By Lim Anuar label, Lim was commissioned by HSBC Malaysia after he was nominated under the bank’s HSBC Pledge campaign, an initiative that recognises the "can-do" spirit among Malaysians who are struggling during the pandemic.

Lim’s livelihood was severely affected due the pandemic restrictions, which disrupted art exhibitions nationwide. In the last 20 months, he struggled to find a way forward. But he kept making art to try to lift the gloom. Lim auctioned his artworks on virtual platforms and also joined art competitions in the hopes of winning cash prizes. However, these were not sustainable means to keep the disabled artist afloat.

As a solution, HSBC put him in touch with PMC in April this year and suggested that Lim repackaged his artwork.

“HSBC’s idea was to generate awareness of my art and make it appealing to audiences that don’t typically buy artwork in its original form,” shares Lim, who took home the first prize at the 8th International Abilympic Competition in South Korea in 2011.

Indeed, he believes it’s important for visual artists, not just businesses, to pivot.

“If I want to keep speaking to people, especially the younger ones, I need to be able to speak their language,” he adds.

All proceeds from the the sales of the PMC By Lim Anuar collection will be channelled back to the artist.

“Hopefully this collection inspires young people to see that although the batik (medium) may not be in its original form, there is still a way of preserving our heritage,” concludes Lim.

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