Nature Nurtured Contemporary Artists Capture Malaysia’s Natural Marvels

by Adline Abdul Ghani

If the 4K UHD displays and curved computer monitors of today are any indication, we take true-to-life images and immersive experiences very seriously. But the Nature Nurtured Exhibition at the Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery (BNMMAG) is a pleasant reminder that we don’t always need tech to experience truly moving images. Walking through the spacious exhibition space, which doesn’t burden itself with interactive touch screens, one can’t help but be awestrucked by hand-painted and hand-drawn images that are so life like, they look like the animals could leap out of the frame at any moment.

Nature Nurtured (2)-
Cloudy by Monica Lee (2016)
Nature Nurtured (3)-
Listen to the Falling Leaf – Crested Wood-Partridge by Tew Yew Kiang (2016)
Nature Nurtured (4)
A reflective corner of the gallery.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are first greeted by the sounds of nature in the background, which sets the tone for the visual treat on display. The exhibition showcases 79 artworks in the prevailing genre of realism and is divided into five sections. It begins with the Earth’s three vital elements – Land, Water and Sky, which highlight the local flora and fauna that inhabit these realms. This is followed by the Corporate and Creative section, which showcases the Central Bank’s support of its staff’s creative spirit. And at the end, an activity area where children can colour, make green pledges, watch an informative video and admire Ramlan Abdullah’s whimsical sculpture entitled “Running Forest”.

Fifteen artists have taken part in the exhibition, sharing a mission to appreciate Malaysia’s greatest asset. They are: Abd Rasid Yusof, Adrian Ho, Charles Mawan, Choo Beng Teong, Dr. Neoh Chin Boon, Jaafar Taib, Johan Marjunid, Latif Maulan, Monica Lee, Moy Siew Ting, Ong Soo Keat, Sazri Russalan, Teh Yew Kiang, Yeap Tho Seng and Zaharuddin Sarbini.

And as the Central Bank has always been a strong supporter of the Malaysian Art industry, art appreciation among Bank staff is not a new phenomenon either. In the case of this exhibition, there is more than nature to be nurtured — there is also some nurturing of creative talent. Thirteen members of staff from different departments in the Bank have contributed 25 artworks displaying the marvels of Mother Nature.

The staff, namely Abdul Muid Latif, Muhammad Herman Rawi, Ikhwanizam Ibrahim, Kamisah Abd Kadir, Khairulzamani Hamzah,  Mohd Faizal Abdul Latif,  Mohd Ubaidillah Daud,  Myrzela Sabtu,  Nurul Fatin Shakira Helmi, Rebecca Choong Shu Wen,  Rina Abd Rahim, Shahril Nizam Abdollah and Tan Mei Yueh, display much energy and creativity in their work, which are generally less realist than the professional artists in the exhibition.

In conclusion, the exhibition is a comprehensive account of the involvement of Malaysian artists in preserving the fragile balance of nature. Through their eyes and efforts, we have a highly personalised record of Malaysia’s ever-changing environment.  And while ‘Nature Nurtured’ seeks to commemorate the natural marvels of Malaysia, as depicted by selected contemporary artists, visitors will instantly marvel at the natural talent that these artists possess. Furthermore, the works on display encourage us to ponder on nature’s wealth in biodiversity and inspiration, as well as the importance of both nurturing the environment and nurturing a love for the environment within ourselves.

The Nature Nurtured Exhibition is open for public viewing at the Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery from 19 January to 18 June 2017. The BNMMAG is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm and admission is free.

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