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Renowned S’wakian artists to hold Artists In Nature Art Exhibition in KL

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(From left) Ramsay, Edric, and Michael are uniting for the first time for the Artists In Nature Art Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

KUCHING (May 13): Renowned Sarawakian artists Ramsay Ong, Michael Lim, and Edric Ong are uniting for the first time to present their works in tree bark collage, batik, and natural dyed silks at the Artists In Nature Art Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

The exhibition will be launched by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri on May 19 at Level 3 Shoppes at Four Seasons Place, Jalan Ampang from 10am to 1pm, after which the unique creations will be on display from May 20 to June 6.

Inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds them in their native Sarawak, the eminent trio will display over 100 artworks, each showcasing the diversity of their creative expressions developed in the last few years, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Edric said this was the first time he and his two fellow artists have exhibited their artworks together.

“We were invited by our friend Richard Tsen of CollabStore and Shoppes at Four Seasons Place to have a joint exhibition.

“We then approached Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, who supported us; as well as MySeni of Sarawak Arts Council under our state’s Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts for assistance,” he told The Borneo Post.

Edric’s ‘Brookiana Butterflies in Mountain’ will be on display.

Edric, a multi-award winning designer who specialises in natural dye textiles, fashion and crafts, shared that one of his artworks which will be on display at the exhibition is the ‘Brookiana Butterflies in Mountain’.

“My first series called ‘Butterflies are Free’ features the unique Brookiana butterflies hand drawn on hand-woven and natural dyed silks and kimonos which were textured using ‘shibori’ or hand stamping techniques.

“Influenced by my exposure to ancient Indian, Javanese and Japanese textiles with the ‘Tree of Life’ motif, I positioned the Sarawakian pitcher plants as the ‘Tree of Life’ emerging from a mountain of rocks, around which the Brookiana butterflies flutter freely,” he explained.

His fascination with the Brookiana butterflies and the pitcher plants arose from his numerous river journeys to the Rumah Garie longhouse in Kapit where his ‘Pua Kumbu’ ikat weavers live; passing by rocks and rapids along the way.

“I saw the most beautiful pitcher plants at Gunung Murud, Sarawak’s highest mountain where I had gone for spiritual retreats with my Lun Bawang Christian family,” he said.

An architect by training, Edric has applied his architectural skills to hand paint on silk for the ‘Brookiana’ series as well as the ‘Nyonya Kuih’ series which combined ‘shibori’ with natural dyes during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Ramsay is well known for his artwork with bark cloth.

Ramsay, the illustrious Batik artist who has been actively painting for over three decades, is arguably most well known for his work with bark cloth made from the fast-growing Tekalong tree.

After spending over 25 years learning the craft of Batik, he took on the challenge of experimenting with a new medium after attending an exhibition in Hawaii where he was inspired by some of the indigenous bark cloth artworks.

In recent years, despite much skepticism from certain quarters, he has persevered in this unique medium and perfected this unique art form popularly known as ‘Bark Art’.

Meanwhile, Michael, whose professional career as an artist began in early 1960s, creates stunning batik images on a variety of textiles ranging from silk to cotton.

Honoured by the Sarawak government as a ‘Living Legend of Batik Art’ in 2018, the prominent artist’s subject matter often includes his trademark hornbills, orchids, jungle life and figurative pieces, drawing inspiration from the exotic rainforests of Borneo and the rich cultural history of Sarawak.

One of Michael’s paintings featuring hornbills.

His batik paintings are created using a conventional method where fabric dyes and wax are methodically worked into the desired fabric to create a ‘layered’ colour scheme. Upon completion of the artwork, the fabric is boiled and pressed to remove excess wax, revealing a composition of vivid colours and intricate patterns and textures.

Michael spends a considerable amount of time on other creative endeavours, including the development of natural dyeing techniques, copper tooling, woodcarving, basketry, and other fibre crafts.

His most recent works employ the batik technique with solely natural dyes, giving a new dimension to his love and concern for the environment and ecology.

He has also experimented with ‘Batikat’, a novel combination of batik over ikat textiles.