Open Studios Penang kicks off with art events all over the island

The exhibits at Thomas Powell’s gallery at 13 Armenian Street. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
The exhibits at Thomas Powell’s gallery at 13 Armenian Street. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, June 15 — How does one paint with fire using a creme brulee torch?

This is exactly what you learn at the Painting With Fire workshop by Tina Lee Degreef at the inaugural Open Studios Penang (OSP) art festival that kicked off yesterday.

Degreef’s workshop teaches the art of “painting” beautiful patterns on copper pieces using hand-held torches, which can then be fashioned into unique jewellery items such as pendants and earrings.

Her workshop, held at Viva Victoria, is one of many art and creative classes held daily over three days in conjunction with the art festival.

Three different workshops are being held at Viva Victoria including Degreef’s Painting With Fire.

On the first floor of the restaurant, George Burchett teaches the art of sculpting elephants using clay as part of his efforts to create awareness on the importance of protecting these gentle giant pachyderms.

Madeleine Ekeblad teaching a workshop on Paint With Music at Viva Victoria. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
Madeleine Ekeblad teaching a workshop on Paint With Music at Viva Victoria. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin

At the front entrance of the restaurant is another artist, Madeleine Ekeblad, who teaches the art of Painting With Music using Chinese inks, bamboo ink pens and acrylics on canvas, paper or board.

There are also two other workshops, Abstract Mixed Media for kids by Tania Ng at Cantonment Court and Father’s Day Woodworking workshop by Nicolas A. Pereira at Woodsmen Maker Space in Hin Bus Depot.

If trying your hand at creating art is not your thing, OSP is the perfect opportunity for you to meet your favourite artist at their studios as some have opened their studios and galleries to the public during these three days.

Catch artist Thomas Powell at his gallery at 13 Armenian Street. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
Catch artist Thomas Powell at his gallery at 13 Armenian Street. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin

Thomas Powell, of the Chinese zodiac paintings fame, will be available to talk about his art and his ideas behind his works at his gallery between 2pm and 5pm at 13, Armenian Street.

Powell has just recently released a book titled Chinese Zodiac so visitors to his gallery can get signed copies there too.

The British artist shares the same space as glass artist Fuan Wong and photographer Howard Tan so don’t forget to also visit Wong’s collection of glass sculptures.

Meanwhile, Tan’s exhibition is titled “Collages” and showcases his artistic expression using old illustrations of birds combined with the bodies of humans.

Over on the northern side of island, Aboud Fares, known for his iron sculptures of abstract forms and creatures, has also open up his studio at 3, Jalan Loh Poh Heng in Tanjung Bungah for visitors during this weekend.

The Syrian sculptor, who is now permanently based in Penang, will be available for discussions about his artworks between 11am and 5pm during OSP.

People take part in the ‘Painting With Fire’ workshop by Tina Lee Degreef. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
People take part in the ‘Painting With Fire’ workshop by Tina Lee Degreef. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin

The co-founder of Urban Sketchers, Ch’ng Kiah Kiean’s studio is also on the northern side of the island at Prima Tanjung in Fettes Park.

The Penang-born artists, known for his watercolour sketches of buildings and streetscapes in Penang, will showcase his works in an exhibition titled “Sketches” at his studio and will also be available to talk about his art between 11am and 5pm these two days.

Other than open studios with meet with artist sessions, several exhibitions and group shows will also be held throughout the island.

Explore the creativity of 30 artists as they find varied ways to showcase their artistic talent using one common item: a block of wood measuring eight inches by six inches.

The group exhibition, curated by Ivan Gabriel, is titled 8” x 6” Project and is open to the public free from 12pm to 6pm for these three days at Project 26, Lorong Carnavon.

Another group show to check out is The Hidden, curated by Can Can Public Art, at City Hall in Esplanade.

The Hidden features works by creative individuals who have never been trained in art but are passionate about it.

Another spot to catch two art events within the same compound is at China House where there is an art exhibition and a live mural painting session by Ilza Burchett.

Burchett will create a site-specific art work, titled Infinity, in the courtyard of China House.

People admiring the artworks on display at the 8” x 6 “ project group exhibition at Project 26 Lorong Carnavon. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
People admiring the artworks on display at the 8” x 6 “ project group exhibition at Project 26 Lorong Carnavon. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin

Upstairs at the Art Space in China House is an exhibition of mixed media works by Priya Sharma titled “if Walls could Speak”.

These are a series mixed media works that depicted imperfect, weathered wall fragments in different swatches of colours and textures.

If you are overwhelmed by the number of art events and exhibitions being held this weekend, the best way to explore some of it is by signing up for an art trail with Lusy Koror of Lah Space.

Koror is organising a two-hour guided tour of the exhibits around the inner city of George Town today and tomorrow.

She will be on hand to showcase the art and help you understand the feelings and messages behind the art on display throughout the trail.

OSP is until tomorrow and admission to most galleries and studios are free of charge. 

Details and locations of all OSP events are available here.

‘The Light’ by Jose Bayas Ilao at the 8” x 6 “ project group exhibition at Project 26 Lorong Carnavon. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin
‘The Light’ by Jose Bayas Ilao at the 8” x 6 “ project group exhibition at Project 26 Lorong Carnavon. — Picture by Steven Ooi K.E. and Sayuti Zainudin