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Eight artists reflect on what it’s like to be confined at home during lockdown in three-day group exhibition

Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 26 — The lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a sense of isolation for many, but this isolation became the spark behind the works exhibited by eight artists in the 3×3 group exhibition held at UAB Building along China Street Ghaut.

Borneo-based visual artist, Harold Reagan Eswar, presented three panels of a colourful interactive map of his hometown, Keningau in Sabah.

He adds colours to the shops and places on the map in accordance to how these places made him feel along with his memories of the place.

He also attached notes of his memories of the shops such as “the shop MIKI, is super cheap, a lot of people go there, and the workers are pretty” and “I come to MIKI to look at girls”.

There are also general observations like “most of the school fights happened here, near a pay phone” or personal memories like “On Christmas night 1984, my mother bought me a toy tractor from the vendor on this bridge. I was the happiest kid in the world.”

His artwork, titled The Sin Lian Huat Documentation, is a form of social data collecting of events that have happened, experiences by an individual and community in his hometown.

“The objective of my artwork is to understand where we came from, to get to know our identity in this country that has overlapped our history and culture to a height that we don’t even know who we are,” Harold said.

Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Harold has also added QR codes on his artwork as the interactive component that linked to actual photos of the places on the map, more stories and other observations.

“I obtained some photos from my friends and put it up to link to this work,” he said.

Another artist, Ivan Gabriel, with his artwork titled When Time Stood Still, explored the themes of isolation and grief and how these are worsened by the pandemic and lockdowns.

His monochromatic drawings of unmade beds and crumpled sheets stood out in stark relief on an intentionally blank dark background meant to show the feelings of loneliness and isolation that one experiences during the pandemic.

“I wanted to showcase the loneliness we feel in a lockdown and the spaces around the artwork, devoid of human presence, showcases how small we can feel in such situations,” he said.

Among the eight artworks, another one that stood out is an installation shaped like a table made from yellow trays traditionally used by hawkers to sell kuih.

The artist Muhammad Ammar Idris created sculptures of traditional kuihs inside the trays for his artwork titled Table of Memories.

“In my artwork, I try to approximate my memories of my home, particularly the kitchen area, using two iconic items that trigger the memories, kuih and yellow trays,” he said.

Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He said the installation also focuses on the relationship of memory and human psychology as part of his ongoing study on nostalgia and mental illness through an artistic and experiential perspective,” he said.

Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Visitors look at art installations during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Artist Lee Lai Queen demonstrated the passing of time with a two-panel installation combining needlework and other mediums to form 12 circular works in a circle like a clock on each panel.

Her installation, titled Routine, showcased the sense of helplessness she felt, interspersed with suspicions and calm and peace.

“This routine is repeated for 24 hours day after day, sometimes, I don’t even know the time,” she said.

The creation of the art installation calmed her soul and it is her hope that it will also calm those who see it.

The other artists involved in the group exhibition are Cassie Wong Mun Yew, Putri Intan Sari Amrizal, Liu Yong Sean and Norfatihah Yusof.

In a space next to the exhibition, another event, “Creative Collection”, is also being held to showcase local brands and artworks.

Photographer Howard Tan showcased some of his collage art works and Baba Nyonya designer Kenny Loh showcased some of his Baba Nyonya products.

Local cartoonist Azmi Hussin is seen in his attempt to draw the longest comic strip in the country during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Local cartoonist Azmi Hussin is seen in his attempt to draw the longest comic strip in the country during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Cartoonist Azmi Hussin, who is attempting his third Malaysia Book of Records for drawing the longest comic strip in the country with his work titled Saga Kami, will also be at Creative Collection during the three-day exhibition.

Azmi will be drawing the final 40 feet panels live at the site for his comic during the event.

Both exhibitions, held in conjunction with George Town Festival, are open until November 28 from 10am to 6pm.

Local cartoonist Azmi Hussin is seen in his attempt to draw the longest comic strip in the country during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Local cartoonist Azmi Hussin is seen in his attempt to draw the longest comic strip in the country during the 3 X 3 Group Exhibition in conjunction with the Georgetown Festival in Penang November 26, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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