As the appreciation for contemporary art grows in Malaysia, art has become not just something cultural to consume, but it has also become a platform and communication tool for social causes.
On 16 November 2017, CULT Gallery, a gallery in Kuala Lumpur of which I am one of the founders, hosted a fundraising art show in support of Sisters in Islam.
Sisters in Islam www.sistersinislam.org is a non profit women’s rights organization that was established close to 30 years ago in Malaysia. Sisters in Islam promotes gender equality and justice, and especially helps women (and at times, men) who have been discriminated by unjust application of Islamic laws in Malaysia through their public legal aid services clinic, Telenisa.
Amongst other issues, Sisters in Islam has been vocal on current topics in Malaysia relating to child marriage, Hudud law, polygamy, unilateral conversion and Islamic family law reform.
With the intriguing title “Hell, Heaven”, Anum, or Noor Mahnun, an established artist in her own right, curated the art show otherwise known as SISArt17.
The art show displayed a wide variety of artworks in oil, acrylic, charcoal, mixed media as well as prints and etchings. It was any eye opener for visitors who were not exposed to art, and it was a pleasure for art lovers to see a showcase of a mixture of different artists and how they interpret “Hell, Heaven” in their artwork.
21 artists participated in the show including established Malaysian artists such as Ilse Noor, Umibaizurah Ismail, Chong Siew Ying, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Chang Fee Ming, Bayu Utomo, Ahmad Shukri, Ahmad Fuad and Sharon Chin. In addition, the show highlighted upcoming artists such as Saiful Razman, Arif Fauzan and Annyketyni as well as young, emerging artists such as Hana Zamry, Nia Khelisa and Izat Arif. We successfully managed to sell more than 80% of the artworks by opening night, thanks to the artists and collectors who were generous with their support of the important causes championed by Sisters in Islam.
As the show was held for a week, CULT gallery had the opportunity to host a new event, KL Collectors Weekend where Indonesian art collectors visited the gallery and Senijari.
One of the collectors, Diaz, happened to be in the fashion industry (look up the brand Wilsen Willem – they have amazingly stylish shirts!), and took a liking to a customized, unique Senijari songket in black with the “Tampuk Manggis” motif in silver. He immediately styled it in so many ways we could never have thought of and marveled at the luxurious quality of the handwoven, 3 metre long textile.
Senijari’s core idea is to infuse art and design into the contemporary handwoven pieces in its collection – and we are happy that a keen eye in art and design all the way from Indonesia has recognized, and appreciated this.
Thank you Diaz, and thank you again to Malaysian artists and collectors who are generous souls! Here is to more art and more good causes in 2018.
On a side note, do support Sisters in Islam www.sistersinislam.org by purchasing these colourful and cute keychains, with the word ‘sisters’ and ‘roar’ engraved on each side of the coin (pictures below). Priced at RM43 each, these make cute gifts and are perfect for stocking fillers! Orders can be made by messaging Senijari through whatsapp ( 0122861800) or messaging us through our social media @senijariheritage for instagram and Senijari on Facebook.