The Art Journey of Pekan Nanas show in JB

The Art Journey of Pekan Nanas, an art exhibition by 40 artists and 10 photographers, from Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and China, is presented in a showcase of paintings exhibited at Think City Johor Baru from now till Nov 15.

Lee Chin Chian giving an introduction to the
Art Journey of Pekan Nanas art exhibition in JB
This collection was the fruit of their three-day-two-night art and heritage experience in Pekan Nanas that happened on June 15 and first presented in an exhibition held at Johor’s historical Pineapple Town, Pekan Nanas.

The impressive work of these local and foreign artists are the impressions of their experiences of local culture and heritage as they sketched and painted live scenes and wall murals in Pekan Nanas new village.

This Sketch Walk through the Pekan Nanas new village in the theme, Art Journey of Pekan Nanas, was a project led by watercolours artist, Lee Chin Chian, whose hometown is nearby Pontian.

Viewing the video made for the launch event for My
Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People
Lee had applied for a grant under the Iskandar Malaysia Beyond Boundaries Programme (IMB2P) last year for this Sketch Walk and we met at the offices of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) when he made his project pitch to the Award Committee.

I cannot forget the way Lee passionately described his project and how participants of the Sketch Walk could appreciate the on-location art experience along with the popular local food in this area.

The Pekan Nanas new village, fondly known as Kampung Cina Pekan Nanas, has some 70 years of history and is still thriving, with many homes occupied by third generation families.

YB Cheo Yee How saying a few words
His Sketch Walk project reminded me that “new villages” have a significant role in our nation’s history because it was in fact, a counter insurgency technique employed by the British here in the mid-1950s during the Malayan Emergency.

New villages were formed by the relocation of the population, mainly Chinese, into guarded camps in order to isolate them and prevent the army insurgents led by the Malayan Communist Party, from receiving their supply of food, material, information and in getting new recruits.

Since the nation’s independence in 1957, these new villages have evolved into residential areas and most have been demolished for redevelopment.

The few that remain are precious pieces of history and I can understand why Lee aims to preserve the charm and beauty of the Pekan Nanas new village in his project.

The scenes captured in this Sketch Walk are, in fact very valuable because they represent a slice of history which is fast disappearing in our modern world.

My turn to say a few words...
In those days, there was a trend to install metal grilles in windows and the makers came up with attractive designs that are still seen in village homes today.

In the exhibition, a series of 12 paintings that feature various designs of window grilles in new village homes was completed by Jonas Lim, a young watercolour artist under Lee’s tutelage.

Local art activist, Cha Ming Cheng of Batu 27 Creative, captured these window grille designs in photographs, and Lim was tasked with converting them into paintings.

After a successful showing in Pekan Nanas, Lee brought the exhibition to the city for more people to appreciate the beauty captured in the Art Journey of Pekan Nanas.

Gerald Woo [Left] presenting me with a
sketch of my portrait by Lee Chin Chian
When Lee sent me the invitation to the exhibition’s opening at Think City JB, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was named as a Guest of Honour along with the assemblyman for Perling, YB Cheo Yee How.

The guests at this small event included the representative from IRDA, Gerald Woo, Think City JB friends and local artists, as well as a couple visiting from Indonesia who were also artists.

At the ground floor space in Think City JB, known as Ruang, there is a screen where their corporate videos are played in a loop with the volume turned off.

As one of the successful recipients of Think City’s Grant Programme, I was among the grantees featured in their videos being played on the screen.

Watching the silent videos with segments on My Johor Stories book projects, I could identify with Lee’s pride and joy in successfully accomplishing his Sketch Walk under IRDA’s IMB2P grant programme.

Gerald Woo [Left] with Lee Chin Chian at the exhibition
While waiting for the others to arrive, Think City’s Faezah Ayub gave a brief intro to the work of Think City and went on to introduce me (Blush! Blush!) as an Ambassador for Johor and one of the success stories of Think City JB.

Her intro was perfectly timed to coincide with the video on the screen which was the one screened at the book launch event for My Johor Stories 2: Interesting Places and Inspirational People that featured stories from various Johor towns and Heritage Traders, with me (the Storyteller!) doing the narration.

At once Faezah asked for the volume to be turned up so that we could watch the 8-minute video and get a glimpse of the contents in my book sequel.

A series of paintings that feature
window grilles in new village homes
I’m sure this video gave the viewers a better idea about My Johor Stories and when I was invited to speak about Lee’s Art Journey project under the IMB2P grant programme, it was easy for them to appreciate my support for Lee’s project in Pekan Nanas, another Johor town.

The assemblyman for Perling, YB Cheo Yee How, agreed with me that this art exhibition – The Art Journey of Pekan Nanas – with paintings of authentic new village scenes, rendered in watercolours and oil paints, captures the essence of a gated and guarded community from a bygone era.

This art exhibition is indeed a rare treat for city folks – one you cannot miss.

One for the album: Artists and friends at Think City JB for the Art Journey of Pekan Nanas art exhibition
The Art Journey of Pekan Nanas exhibition is on now for a limited time until Nov 15, at Ruang, Think City Johor Baru, No. 27 Jalan Dhoby, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor.

Open daily from 9am to 5pm; Closed on Saturday.

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