Teens’ talent brought to the fore

(From left) Wei Lun showing his winning artwork to Gobind, Halimah and Universiti Malaya deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Dr Kamila Ghazali at the Art Gallery Universiti Malaya.

TEENAGER Willie Wong Wei Lun never took art classes outside of his school and only attended one art workshop in his entire 14 years of life.

But that did not stop the talented Nobel International School student from producing a prize-winning artwork that has earned the praise of many, including Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.

The painting, which depicted Wei Lun’s persona and array of emotions as a student, saw him being declared the first prize and sole winner in the open category of the inaugural interschool art competition exhibition organised by Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason Association (PCORE).

“I made the painting to symbolise how schools can help us to integrate and live more harmoniously in society.

“Competitions such as the one organised by PCORE can help students to be more aware about the topic of harmony because it is important.

“And through art, students can express their views more creatively compared to, for example, writing essays,” he said, adding that it was the first art competition he ever entered.

Wei Lun took between three weeks and a month to complete his winning entry.

He took home RM1,000 in prize money from the competition.

Themed “Friendly Harmony, Mutual Respect,” the PCORE programme celebrated its 23 winners across six categories at a ceremony in Universiti Malaya.

Another first-prize winner, French-Egyptian Nour El Keraby, 14, said the contest, which enabled students to express themselves through art, was important as there was a need to understand the different generations’ view of unity.

“When my teacher told me that there was this art contest with the theme of unity, I thought about how everyone is different yet we can all unite.

“I thought about painting a puzzle to show how we can come from many countries but be united because we all come from one place and one blood,” said Nour, who won in the Category B for students aged between 13 and 15.

The French School of Kuala Lumpur student, who took five hours to produce her prize-winning entry, also walked away with RM1,000.

Gobind, who launched the event, said he saw immense value in the art competition and all such events as they were outlets for people to express their views and ideas.

“It is my wish that we can encourage and inculcate more interest in art-related content and activities among our younger generation for them to become more expressive, thereby making our world richer with their creations.

“Promoting art education and instilling art appreciation should be seen as a necessary societal endeavour in contributing to nation-building and the community.

“Schools are important catalysts to bring out latent talents and hidden skills of our youths,” he said in his speech.

PCORE president Datuk Halimah Mohd Said said the programme, which saw the participation of 30 public and private schools from primary to secondary, was a fun and colourful project to pave the way towards better unity.

“The theme is part of an important movement that has been launched in schools, to rejuvenate the spirit of unity and national integration. But we have given a fresh breath of life to the concept of unity and integration by having fun projects that anyone can be involved in.

“This is part of our efforts to foster stronger unity.

“We may organise the project every two years as well as other activities such as dancing and drama,” she told reporters.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya Art Gallery and Museum educator and curator Anita Zainal said the programme was one of the university’s initiatives to liven up the art gallery.

“Since UM does not have Fine Arts Faculty, I welcome with open arms Datuk Halimah’s suggestion for us to have this kind of programme.

“This art gallery holds so many valuable artworks from talented artists; most of their artworks cost up to millions of ringgit.

“We are endeavouring to make our art gallery more approachable and user friendly to all of our visitors as art is not only for the elite.

“Art is very subjective and everyone can love the beauty of it,” said Anita.

The students’ artwork are being exhibited until Dec 23 at the Art Gallery on the fifth level of the Chancellery Building in Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
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