Inspiring young and old through art







Vaz putting the finishing touches on a Sarawakian-themed artwork.

Vaz putting the finishing touches on a Sarawakian-themed artwork.

MIRI: Mary Anne Vaz is an accomplished artist who loves to teach both young and old.

Born in Penang, Vaz moved here after marrying a Kelabit and now runs an art centre from her home.

“I started painting before I learnt ABC. Parents should give their children a chance to explore art from an early age.

“I paint without sketching and I train my students to do this.”

Vaz said learning art is also good for the elderly.

Young children are given the freedom to explore their creativity at the centre located in Vaz’s house.
Young children are given the freedom to explore their creativity at the centre located in Vaz’s house.  

“It stimulates the flow of endorphins and I believe painting can improve their memory.”

She also believes art is a family-based activity.

“I encourage families to come together as a group as it helps them bond.”

Her youngest student, six-year-old Kieran Chia Yuen Soong said drawing and painting made him happy.

Another student, Whang Khoung Wha, from South Korea, paints scenes from the four seasons and decorates her house with the artwork produced.

Painting can help the elderly improve their memory, like this couple, Pulo Wan (left) and Urai Lawing.
Painting can help the elderly improve their memory, like this couple, Pulo Wan (left) and Urai Lawing.

Vaz loves to paint Sarawakian themes especially native culture, people and indigenous animals and her paintings have been exhibited internationally.

Her work was recently displayed at the Lingnam Musuem of Art in Foshan, Guangzhou, China.

“This also helps promote Sarawak,” she said.

Vaz and her students are selling their paintings to raise funds to buy books for Penan pupils living in the deep interior of Baram district.

“My students and I sell selected paintings online and at art exhibitions in Miri and other places.

Kieran and his sister are inspired by nature.
Kieran and his sister are inspired by nature.

“With the proceeds, we buy story books and reference books for Penan children at kindergartens in Long Seridan and Long Belok in Ulu Baram.

“I have a good friend here who visits the Penan in Ulu Baram regularly and we have set up mini libraries there .

“I hope by providing them with suitable books, they will learn to love reading in both English and Bahasa Malaysia,” said Vaz, who hoped to set up similar mini libraries in other Penan settlements.

Sarawak