Can art and art education flourish without race?


SEPT 16 — Segaris Art Center is a new art gallery in Kuala Lumpur. This establishment, a subsidiary of UiTM Holdings, is the first showcase for all the fine art graduates from the university. It will operate like any other commercial gallery but the commission they charge artists will be below market rate.

The title of their first exhibition in May this year was “Suarasa” and they showed 14 of their best artists from their alumni. This collection of over 30 artworks covers four generations of artists from the 1970s, 80s, 90s to the present. Since then it has had other art-related events and is beginning to attract an audience.

In the 60s, there was no art school in Malaysia; the nearest was the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore and it was mainly for Mandarin-speaking students. Many who could afford the cost of an overseas education went to the United Kingdoom, USA, France or Australia.

For the Malays, the government started the Maktab MARA in 1965. Later in 1967 it became Institute Teknology MARA. Then in 1999 it took the name Universiti Teknologi MARA.

At present, with a student population of 200,000 spread over 12 branch campuses, three satellite campuses, nine city campuses and 12 affiliated collages nationwide, it is Malaysia’s largest institute of learning in terms of size and population.

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Art decentralised: The Open Art Show



AUG 5 — The Shah Alam Art Gallery was established 21 years ago by the Selangor government and was the brain child of the present Sultan of Selangor.

The gallery is situated in an idyllic setting by the lake in the public park at the centre of the town. This park is a hive of activity on weekends. There are also a few shopping centres and hotels in the vicinity.

The Shah Alam Art Gallery is set in the public park in the town’s centre.

The Malaysian open art show was at one time organised by the National Art Gallery. It was an annual art event where all artists resident in Malaysia could exhibit their work in a public institution. It was a much anticipated cultural event. Sadly this was discontinued for no apparent reason.

But happily, the Shah Alam Gallery took over the task of organising their own open show. This is their 18th year and the exhibition is on till August 30. To encourage artists to take part, the gallery gave RM500 to five winners each year from 1994 till 2002 but from 2003 they increased the prize and started to give away RM600 to six winning entries.

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Art and a sense of equality

JULY 8 — Muar town in Johor and Malacca town in Malacca share a very similar geography and historical background. These two towns are an hour’s drive from each other. Both towns started as early seafarers’ settlements at the mouth of the river. However the Muar River is by far the more prominent in both size and length compared to the Malacca River even though both rivers flow into the Straits of Malacca.


But Malacca’s history outshone that of Muar’s even though both places had been, in the past, at various times, invaded and conquered by Indians, Javanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese. Even though Muar had a better natural geography than Malacca as a port, why and how did Malacca became the preferred port of call in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries? That is a historical question for historians.

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