“BE not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still”. Visitors to the ongoing ‘Art Within Theatre III: Growth’ exhibition in Penang will be reminded of this proverb.
Most of the 11 participating artists are members of the Penang Players Music and Drama Society who are involved in acting, set and costume design, prop-making, directing and producing.
Hailing from many different backgrounds, they all possess a creative flair that is evident in the diverse works that comprise paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and wood carvings.
“What unites them is a love for the arts and a desire to grow Penang’s art scene.
“The show is an excellent opportunity to show the world the extent of their talents, ” said society chairwoman Joelle Saint-Arnoult at the event held at the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (Penangpac) in Straits Quay.
Saint-Arnoult put up a selection of paintings depicting colourful flowers and towering trees.
One example is the acrylic on canvas piece titled ‘Garden of Plenty’.
Ivan Gabriel explored the concept of growth differently with ‘H.O.P.E ?’ made from a piece of inked and burned tree bark. It referenced the recent Australian wildfires.
“This will evolve throughout the exhibition’s four-week duration as I’ll be adding elements like mushrooms to symbolise growth and renewal.”
Another of his work titled ‘Growth Series - Tree Bark VI’ also features tree bark but it is brimming with fungi sculpted from clay. This will also weather with time.
“I’m fascinated by the idea of decay and impermanence.
“You cannot spell contemporary without the word ‘temporary’. Why should an art piece last forever?” Ivan pondered.
Fa Abdul displayed eight photographs, mostly taken in Yangon, Myanmar.
They highlight how growth is not always as smooth-sailing as people would like it to be.
‘The Box Collector’ shows a boy who has to scrounge for scraps to make a living as poverty has denied him the chance to go to school.
‘Fritters’ depict a roadside food vendor.
Fa pointed out, “Every piece he fries is just one more step towards providing for his family.”
On images that depict the elderly, she added, “As you grow older, those you love might leave us. Then, growing isn’t fun anymore as you are left alone.”
Vijay Nathan displayed an iron, glass and LED-lit sculpture called ‘Ellen’.
It is an interactive piece that allows visitors to stand in front of it and take photos. What visitors see vary from person to person.
“No matter the flaws one has, every person can be renewed when there is light in them. We can all be what we aspire to be. Light is only seen when it is dark.”
The other participating artists are Eric Yeoh, Hungry Goat, Lusy Koror, Mikk Towers, Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson, Tommes and Vatsn.
The art exhibition is now in its third year and held in conjunction with Open Studios Penang 2020 that kicks off later this month.
Penang tourism development, arts, culture and heritage committee (Petach) chairman Yeoh Soon Hin was present for the opening.
The show continues until March 29. Pieces are displayed at Gallery 1 and 2 of Penangpac.
Viewing hours are 10am to 6pm daily. Entrance is free.