WHEN budding artist Vyshnavi Bharidasan found out that Star Media Group was celebrating its 50th anniversary recently, she set out to design an artwork to commemorate the occasion.
The 20-year-old was at Menara Star last month to hand over the artwork – made from The Star newspaper – as a gift to express her gratitude as a reader who has benefited from reading the English daily.
Currently a Form Six student preparing for her Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), Vyshnavi has come a long way from the girl who used to resist reading the newspaper.
She shared that for a long time, her only contact with the newspaper was from picking it up from the doorstep and handing it to her family, or from using it to cover the tables while she did art and craft.
She would also occasionally use the newspaper to create an artwork.
Her mother forced her to read the contents to no avail. This all changed after she attended an interview for a student exchange programme she had applied for.
“The first question I was asked was: ‘Tell me what is making headlines in Malaysia right now?’
“My mind went completely blank. I didn’t know what to say because I really didn’t know the answer. As expected, I was not selected,” she told StarEdu.
Since then, she made reading the newspaper her newfound interest and habit.
“Every morning, I would skim the newspaper and read at least two articles that I found interesting,” she said.
Her effort bore fruit as two years later, she applied for the same student exchange programme and was accepted.
“Even now, The Star is helping me prepare for my Malaysian University English Test (MUET),” she said, adding that she refers to past copies of the Earn Your Band 5+ column in The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) pullout in preparation for the test.
Having reaped the rewards of reading the newspaper, she decided to seize the opportunity of The Star’s 50th anniversary to express her gratitude as a reader.
On Sept 9, 2021, The Star turned 50. A golden jubilee celebration to mark the momentous event was held on Nov 9.
“I want to thank The Star for walking with me throughout my student journey, and for highlighting current affairs as well as colourful stories about people,” she said.
Describing the process of producing the artwork as “simple yet tedious”, she said she first collected old copies of the newspaper from a recycling centre, separating them into usable and unusable stacks.
The unusable ones were transformed into sustainable, eco-friendly packaging paddings, while the usable ones were rolled and shaped into the components for design purposes, she explained.
The different parts of the art piece were then assembled and held together by a layer of glue. To make it aesthetically pleasing, the artwork was painted and varnished, she added.
Vyshnavi shared that her love for art started from a young age.
“It’s the process of how art tells visual stories and how it’s able to create so much impact on society that inspires me,” she said.
Last year, after being selected as a participant of the National Art Gallery’s Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE!) programme, she came up with the idea of turning newspapers into functional art pieces.
“The coaches at the National Art Gallery helped me to develop this idea. I experimented with different used materials like cloth, aluminium and newspaper. The newspaper turned out to be the most feasible.
“This is the start of my journey to give reusable and pre-loved materials a new long-lasting artistic life which is in line with my desire to promote environmentally sustainable functional art,” she shared.
Through the YAE! programme, she learned the basics and fundamentals of creating a business in the art industry that is sustainable, she said, adding that she has set up an online store for her artworks.
“Each of my artworks has its own story that is based on human emotion and behaviour,” she said.
“I want everyone who purchases each piece to feel as if they are bringing home not just a functional art piece, but also the story behind it,” she added.
Vyshnavi plans to dedicate more time to experimenting with her ideas after her STPM and hopes to collaborate with organisations that are environmentally sustainable in the future.
Yan Huen, 17, a student in Selangor, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Throughout the year-long programme, participants aged between 14 and 22 from all across the country experience life as journalists, contributing ideas, conducting interviews, and completing writing assignments. They get to earn bylines, attend workshops, and extend their social networks. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.