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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Langkawi Geoparks

Langkawi, the magnificient karst landsacpe of Kilim

Why do people visit Langkawi? A lot of people go there to buy or sell duty free goods. Some go there to buy or sell airplanes during the annual international air show. Tourists go to the islands for the beautiful tropical beaches and sun. Others go there to work in the tourist industry, the main economic backbone of the island.

However, there is a growing number who go there not just for its unique geographic settings of the hills, sea, beaches and sun but to know more about its 550 million years old geological history and its landscape.

In 2007, Langkawi, part of the state of Kedah, was given a new concept, geopark, by Unesco. Not long ago it was popularly called eco-tourism and before that, it was fragmented into nature, marine, forest and cultural reserves.

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