Making a life in art on Langkawi

The Langkawi art group meeting at their regular home for inspiration and aspiration.

Langkawi island is not as well-known for its artistic and cultural heritage as the Indonesian island of Bali. It also has a long way to go to catch up with the tourist industry of Phuket which is a little to the north of the Andaman sea. But what these three islands have in common is their 550 million-year-old geological heritage, their surrounding seas and unique tropical landscape and weather.

However, neither Bali nor Phuket (so far) have been awarded the geopark status by Unesco. Langkawi was given the world geopark award in 2007. With joint research between LESTARI of UKM and LADA, the island’s ecotourism concept fulfilled all the international requirements of a geopark.

Artists from all over the world have been making  their way to South-East Asia, especially Bali, for over 60 years and many never left. One of the most famous early European artists, Walter Spies (1895-1942) was living and working in Ubud, Bali, from the 1930s till his death in 1942. He and his artistic friends helped put Bali artists and art in the Western art market.

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Sharing a meal and life lessons

Dinner time at the Agathians Shelter home in Petaling Jaya

Do you generally feel that real kindness might not exist (with all the endless wars and human injustices around us, here and elsewhere )? Or, do you  simply believe human beings to be naturally kind?

Have  you also wondered why there are so many kids without parents and homes in our towns and cities? Furthermore, what are your reflections on this essential yet  eternal and complex question, “How shall one live?”

One of the many places, where you can reflect on the above issues, is at the Agathians Shelter, in Petaling Jaya, a home for the displaced young people.

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Penan: Warrior artist

A Penan family home, in the forest near Bario, Sarawak.

The Penan is one of the 200 (more or less) riverine and hill-dwelling indigenous Dayak people of Borneo; the third largest island in the world. About three quarters of the island is Indonesia’s Kalimantan; Malaysia’s Sarawak (biggest state) and Sabah occupy almost a quarter; with Brunei just about one per cent of Borneo’s land area.

Each ethnic subgroup has its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture. These Austronesian speaking peoples must have migrated here more than 20,000 years ago when the Southeast Asian landmass was not yet under water as it is today. As the sea rose, some Dayaks became seafarers too.

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