Competition draws new talents

Sultan Sharafuddin (second from left) presenting Lim a certificate for winning first prize in the adult category at Yusof Gajah Illustration Award 2023. With them are Amirudin (left) and Mastura. — Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

Two women take home inaugural Yusof Gajah Illustration Award prizes at book fair

THE first Yusof Gajah Illustration Award 2023 saw two women winning the top prize in a competition that aims to unearth talents and showcase illustrators’ creativity in the field of children’s picture books.

Lim Lay Koon won in the adult category (18 years old and above) with her series of artworks titled The Rainbird while Nur Fatihah Alina Helmy won in the young adult category (below 18 years old) with her series titled Bolehkah Saya Melihat Warna? (Can I See Colour?)Lim took home RM5,000 while Nur Fatihah won RM2,500. Each category offered prizes for the top three winners and 10 consolation tokens.

Selangor government established the award as a tribute to the late Yusof Gajah’s contributions to the world of illustration.

Mohd Yusof Ismail, better known as Yusof Gajah, was a Malaysian artist and storyteller whose works often featured elephants.

Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah presented the prizes to winners at Selangor International Book Fair (SIBF) 2023 held at MBSA Convention Centre in Section 13, Shah Alam.

He was accompanied by Tengku Permaisuri of Selangor Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin to officiate at the fair’s opening ceremony.

Present were Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari and Selangor Public Library Corporation (PPAS) director Datin Paduka Mastura Muhamad.

Sultan Sharafuddin also presented certificates to the eight participants of Selangor International Fellowship Programme which focuses on information exchange, dialogue and building an international book industry ecosystem.

In his speech, Amirudin said, “If we are serious in enriching the minds of the younger generation and families with values that can shape their mindsets and characters, then we must choose what we read wisely.

“This (book fair) is a collaborative effort by all parties in working towards achieving the government’s vision and mission of building the nation.”

Yusof Gajah Illustration Award 2023 young adult winner Nur Fatihah in front of her winning entry.Yusof Gajah Illustration Award 2023 young adult winner Nur Fatihah in front of her winning entry.

He said SIBF 2023 featured 354 booths and 255 exhibitors comprising publishers, writers and illustrators from Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Saudi Arabia.

“SIBF also offers space for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to showcase their products besides books, along with food trucks showcasing the variety of food on offer in Selangor, a state that exemplifies the melting pot culture of Malaysia,” said Amirudin, who is also PPAS chairman.

Nur Fatihah said her artworks, based on the theme of colour blindness, were partially inspired by her own nearsightedness.

“The main character is a girl who is colour blind. In my story, she only sees objects in black and white, and tends to view things negatively.

“Her friend, a boy who loves colours, buys her a pair of magical glasses that allows her to see colours and her perspective changes for the better,” said the bespectacled 18-year-old from Melaka.

Nur Fatihah said her illustrations were part of coursework for a Creative Thinking subject at Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara in Rembau, Negri Sembilan.

She added that she enjoyed working on the project and hoped to become a children’s book illustrator or pursue a career related to her love of manga.

Her lecturer Rosfaizah Md Tawil said, “I used the competition as a learning opportunity for my students, as it offered them a chance to put what they learned into an actual project.

“I wanted them to sharpen their hand-drawing skills and understand the methodology of creative thinking.

“They came up with their own storylines, concepts and at least six illustrations per person.”

She said the best artworks created by her pool of 40 students were submitted for the award.

The students made a clean sweep in the young adult category, while a lecturer won third prize in the adult category.

SIBF is ongoing until Dec 10, from 9am to 9pm.

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