Artist with a heart puts coffee waste to good use


Waste not: Chan’s latest work pays homage to the Nanyang coffee cup and saucer set.

PETALING JAYA: The movement control order has allowed many people to slow down and reflect.

For Ipoh-based contemporary artist, Chan Karwai, the relaxed sipping of Ipoh white coffee at a local cafe has allowed her to create her maiden artwork using coffee grinds, which is usually thrown away.

“My interest in the coffee shop waste was piqued when I had a conversation with the owner, who then gave me some dried coffee waste to experiment as material for creating art, ” said Chan, who operates her studio in Ipoh, which incidentally, is also considered home to the this special blend of coffee that is roasted in a manner to produce whitish looking beans, hence the moniker “white coffee”.

“Prior to using coffee waste, I last used charcoal to produce an image of (the late) George Floyd in homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, ” said Chan, who is famous for her oil paintings of various celebrities, especially Formula One drivers.

“My current projects involve creating art through the upcycling of natural materials, where I gather things that people normally throw away to repurpose them, ” said this self-taught artist who regularly receives commissions from affluent individuals and corporations.

In her maiden coffee art piece, Chan used coffee grinds of various sizes to replicate the hibiscus plant featured on the iconic Nanyang coffee cup and saucer set commonly found in Chinese coffee shops.

The coffee grind is set on a piece of wooden board using glue, with varying layers to create a near three-dimensional impression when viewed up close.

Chan is also known for her charitable acts, especially in aid of frontliners battling Covid-19.

At the height of the Covid-19 in Malaysia last April, Chan painted five oil paintings to be donated to Pertubuhan Cintai Malaysia (PCM), an NGO led by Datuk Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi.

“We hope to raise RM5mil from these paintings via social media, with those donating the highest having the best chance of keeping these works, ” said Dr Zulkafperi at the unveiling event back then.

Part of the donations went to frontliners’ families who died while on duty, with at least four families agreeing to accept the donations then, as well as to an undisclosed number of frontliners warded hrough PCM’s Frontliners Fund.

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