Monday, April 27, 2015

Art Is still Alive in Children.- it almost died in me...

To color with the creative innocence of a child lost in her world in hues and tones, bright and dark, This is how I have tired to approach my Art. Sadly enough I had lost this childhood trait and now have become tight ass when I do art. 

The sight of children sitting in all sorts of position along the corridors of the Penang State Art Gallery attending its 50th Anniversary was worth my trip there.

Although having art competitions is not the best of methods in getting children to be interested in art  it was a necessary tool as it draws students who has the potential from schools around the Georgetown area..Most had their mothers or teachers with them...most of the adults were coaching the childre, can't blame them if the prize is worth the effort.

A Child who got tired of his mom's coaching.

The real artist! The Malaysian Van Gogh!

When I was in my elementary school era I was a child prodigy where art was concern, I believe this simply because in all my primary school years  from standard one to standard six no one walked up the sage on Parent's Day at the end of the year but me.  

 The school used to keep me back after school till eight at night so i can paint a mural  or two on  a piece of long brown wrapping paper about six to seven feet long and by three feet wide. These were for the Parent's day Exhibition on the walls of the school. I remember being asked to draw the statue of captain Francis Light larger than life and all around him things like the penang ferry and tamples and Mosques and such. Everytime i walk up the wooden steps of the Main of the School I would look up and see my work frmaed and hanging on the wall above me.

I was a student at the Francis Light Primary School  located on Perak Road, at the junction of Anson road in Georgetown, There still is the Chinese shrine built under a very large Rain tree which still stand shading the Temple. I used to enjoy the  strong smell of incense bllowing from the temple altars thick smoke which practically covered the whole area around the temple in a shroud of mist early in the mornings when I arrived at the junction  

Where Art was a Blessing, Arithmatic was a torture that I had to endure as i was severely punished for every multiplication table that I did not know and I did not know most. The punishment included the removal of my pants and parading bare naked to the head master's office to be caned.   

 As a child i cannot say that I had a good school life, but on looking back i was  a top scorer in my classes so much so that i was made to go through the express class, I bypassed standard two and jumped to standard three. In the whole school I was among the first and seconds  in the class as general merit went and also the entire school in my Intelligence tests and sometimes in English not to mention Art. I remember so well walking up the school stage every end of the year to receive the prizes that i had won in front of all the students.

 I hardly had any Malays friend and because of my upbringing was  as a Buddhist, I felt ostracised by the Malays. I often felt guilty and left out and hung with the Chinese and Indian kids instead. One of the places we used to hand out was the Penang Buddhist Temple nearby of Anson Road. In my home back then I grew up with an entire family of Muslims, I often went to the mosque on Fridays following my friends and cousins and on Saturdays and Sundays I attended the pali scholl at the Mahindrama Buddhist Temple on Kampar Road in the Air Itam green Lane area. 

 The Mahindrama is one of the oldest Buddhist Temple in Penang if not Malaysia itself. and inside the walls were filled with Buddhist Motifs from Sri Lanka which my Grand Father was commissioned to do. These frescoes of the life of the Buddha from beginning till the end my grandfather was instrumental in creating them. Even thought I was very young and often scared and confused about what is the right and the wrong practice was for me i felt no fear in being in the mosque or the temple. Iwas at home especially in the temple where i was often lost inot my grandfathers paintings all over the ceiling of the main Buddha hall!

I felt the dilemma of my dichotomy in religious practice was most challenging and painful then I was taken back by my parents at the age of 12 from my uncle who had adopted me and the rest of my aunts and uncles and cousins and th whole gang of merry makers who to hung out with while growing up in the Sungai Pinang, Kampung Selut area. I Terengganu while i went through my teenage years at the Sultan Sulaiman Seondary School, I was fully converted to Islam in the most painful way a boy could imagine I along with my tiwn brother were circumsaed and what an ordeal that was, but i oficcially became a Muslim. 

Art was  again my strength while in school and English and i had my twin brother to compete with which I hated most. It was the reason that we never truly get along till today. Everything we did was seen as a competition and in later years even our relationships with the girls was also affected. I had a few great Art teachers the likes of Mr. C.K.Lai, Encik Ibrahim Yusof and Mr. Redza Piyadasa, But my favorite was the Peace Corp couple from Iowa in the United States. A Mr. Michael Jane Kelly and his wife. Mr. Kelly slapped me the first day we met because i imittated his drawl Iowan  accent while he was teaching.

 I got slapped in the face by just about every male teacher in the school by the time I graduated
 from my secondary school (High School). Yea definitely school sucked for me. How do you go to school where your eldest brother was the disciplinary teacher and your twin brother was there before you and you were the intruder in their lives. I survived and  might I add not without trying times
Seeing these children's creative energy at work it took me back my years of being where they were at.
And this too will Pass...

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