A tree falls in Penang, 50 pieces of art are made... go see the exhibition

A sterling silver sculpture of a phoenix rising from the rubble titled 'Alive' by Jonathan Yun — Pictures by Steven Ooi K.E.
A sterling silver sculpture of a phoenix rising from the rubble titled 'Alive' by Jonathan Yun — Pictures by Steven Ooi K.E.

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 24 — So what happens when a tree is uprooted during a storm? Usually it is cleared away and that is that but for one particular tree that fell during a storm here, it lives on as part of the second 8” by 6” Project exhibition.

Fifty artists turned 8" by 6" pieces of wood — from the trunk of the fallen tree — into works of art.

Exhibition curator Ivan Gabriel said the first 8” by 6” Project, which was part of the Open Studios Penang art festival in June, saw about 65 per cent of the art pieces sold, and this prompted him to come up with a second installation.

“I am so excited this time around because we are using real wood from a tree trunk while the first project was using plywood,” he said.

Ivan Gabriel curated the exhibition which will also travel to KL next month
Ivan Gabriel curated the exhibition which will also travel to KL next month

The exhibition, held between October 10 and 24 at City Hall, was held in conjunction with the 7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum and supported by Can Can Public Art and Open Studios Penang.

Gabriel said there were a total 50 artworks displayed at City Hall.

There will be a total 60 artworks, including wood used in performances, at the exhibition in PenangPac and later in KLPac.

“There will be a monologue by an actor using wood as a prop and it will be part of the exhibition in PenangPac,” he said.

Nasir Nadsir with his artwork which features wood chopped into pieces to become a 'tree' for the owls.
Nasir Nadsir with his artwork which features wood chopped into pieces to become a 'tree' for the owls.
Esther Geh with her work titled 'Forest Finds'
Esther Geh with her work titled 'Forest Finds'

Then there is a dance performance using wood as part of the programme.

The pieces of wood were interpreted differently by various local and foreign artists, most of whom are Penang-based and part of Open Studios Penang.

Iron sculptor Aboud Fares turned the wood into smaller interactive pieces that are bound and fitted together like a puzzle in a piece called “Unity.”

“I want people to play with it, to try its fluidity and interact with it,” he said.

Aboud Fares with his work titled 'Unity'
Aboud Fares with his work titled 'Unity'

Another artist, Bibichun, had a plant growing out of the wood and intentionally placed it on the ground in the middle of the path so people would trip over it.

Gabriel said the artist wanted people to trip over the piece so that they would stop and notice it.

Mandy Maung chopped the wood into tiny squares, painted her own mouth on it and used a magnet to attach it to a board for her work titled “Out of context?”.

“Words can be taken out of context so my message in this is to remind people and the media to stick to the truth instead of spreading falsehoods,” she said.

Mandy Maung with her work titled 'Out of Context?'
Mandy Maung with her work titled 'Out of Context?'
Tina Lee Degreef with her piece titled 'Evolution?' which used wood and copper
Tina Lee Degreef with her piece titled 'Evolution?' which used wood and copper

Jewellery maker and artist Tina Lee Degreef used the wood as a base for copper leaves to “grow” out of.  Titled “Evolution?”, her work consists of dried leaves, fashioned from copper, around what appears to be a tree stump with new copper leaves sprouting form it.

“This is to signify change and growth,” she said.

The 8” by 6” Project II exhibition ended at City Hall on October 24 and will be set up in PenangPac at Straits Quay from October 26 to November 9.

The exhibition will then be brought to KLPac as part of Gallery Weekend KL between November 15 and 17.

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