Art for Nature 2005: The Power of Dreaming: Taman Sari, Gardens of Delight & Identity


This year’s Art for Nature exhibition takes its concept from the gardens of Taman Sari, originally located in the palace grounds of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, and the fragrance garden of the same name at Rimbun Dahan. Both gardens represent the physical manifestation of a set of ideas about man, their place in the world and how they should interact with other humans and with nature.

Taman Sari in Yogyakarta is a vast complex that includes three large swimming pools, water gardens, lakes and pavilions. Built in 1758 by Sultan Hamengku Buwono I of the Kingdom of Yogyakarta, the project was funded by the Dutch, ostensibly to serve as a fort. While seeming to fulfill this project, the Sultan instead focused on augmenting his grounds and strucafnlogoturing the gardens to amplify his spiritual power.

Legend has it that the power of the Sultan is linked to his mystical marriage to the Queen of the South Sea, variously known as Ratu Laut Selatan or Nyai Loro Kidul. The days and nights preceding their union are marked with rituals and meditation in especially constructed chambers. Should he fail to appear, then harm will befall Java. Taman Sari, then, served as no less than a sacred site to facilitate the harmony of the Kingdom.

In a more personal vein, Taman Sari at Rimbun Dahan was built to express many of the ideas that their owners hold dear. Specifically, the concept that indigenous plants and their symbolic, medical, fragrant and edible qualities must be preserved and celebrated inspired the collection. Plants with a strong sense of cultural identity, such as the pinang palms from which the betel nuts integral to traditional hospitality, are features. Fragrance, rather than colour has been emphasized as that is how plants advertise their fertility in the forest. Laid out to provide sustenance, pleasure and a sense of place, Taman Sari at Rimbun Dahan makes visible the ideas that its owners direct their lives by.

Most importantly, the gardens underscore concepts about place, identity and purpose. Their integration and reliance on the natural world is key. Areas to focus on can be how ideas translate into action, how concepts of self, spirituality and community can be expressed in a creative form, whether or not that is two, three or even four dimensional.

The focus on the gardens is not meant to be literal, but rather symbolic. Themes may include how a sense of place is created, harmony with the natural world, integration of spiritual dimensions with a more mundane reality.

Artists are invited to spend time at Taman Sari in Rimbun Dahan and to consider making works that can be displayed outdoors.

— Laura Fan, curator

Contributing Artists:

Abdul Multhalib Musa
Ahmad Fuad Othman
Ahmad Shukri Mohamed
Ahmad Zakii Anwar
Bayu Utomo Radjikin
Bibi Chew
Chong Siew Ying
Choy Chun Wei
Chuah Chong Yong
Eric Chan Chee Seng
Fariza Azlina Ishak
Ili Farhana Norhayat
Ilse Noor
Jailani Abu Hassan
Kolektif Taring Padi
Nadiah Bamadhaj
Noor Mahnun Mohamed
Nur Hanim Mohamed Khairuddin
Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman
Raja Shariman
Ramlan Abdullah
Saiful Razman
Sharmiza Abu Hassan
Terry Law
the clickproject
Tony Twigg
Umibaizurah Mahir
Wong Perng Fey
Yau Bee Ling
Yee I-Lan
Yusof Majid
Victoria Cattoni
Vincent Leong
Zulkifli Yusof
Terry_Law G of D (Garden of Delight) in a Digital AgeTerry LawThe Garden of Delight, the G of D, has arrived in an abstract world of symbols and metaphors. This multi-media installation explores what unites landscape and nature with contemporary perspective, and contemporary perspective with technology.

The kinetic sculptures draw parallel messages from nature and humanity. The diversity of the garden with its variability, eco-dependence and unpredictability, exemplifies the mysterious order of chaos, reflecting the fragility of our existence.

The digital media creates parallel insertions, conflicting images and links between worlds. The absence of a narrative reduces visual activity to optical poetry. This suggests a shift in the way we think about space and time.

Coloured beads and streaks of flickering light create a rhythmic staccato of warm and cool spots, you no longer know where you are, transported to these new experiences of the soul.

 Victoria_Cattoni tree – Victoria Cattoni (in collaboration with Masnoramli Mahmud)tree is a montage of image, sound, text and performance structured around a simple question: ‘if you were a tree, what kind would you be?’ The video acts as an imaginative trigger, inviting the viewer to identify with a tree that becomes a metaphor for human existence, an embodiment of ourselves in relation to others.
 Eric_Chan Deep NightEric ChanThis is part of a series dealing with night, paying attention to the reflection behind the subject that renders the foreground as a mass of dark shadow-like shapes. My visits to Rimbun Dahan have always been at night, surrounded by a lush moonlit landscape. These memories provided the inspiration for the painting.
 Bayu-Utomo-Radjikin--In-Bet  In Between – Bayu Utomo Radjikin

Gantunglah kami sebelum kamu digantungkan... Contributed for the 2005 Art for Nature fundraising exhibition.

Gantunglah kami sebelum kamu digantungkan… Contributed for the 2005 Art for Nature fundraising exhibition.

Gantunglah kami sebelum kamu digantungkan... – Saiful Razman (in collaboration with Bernice Chauly and Rahmat Haron)This work uses Bernice’s text and Rahmat’s poetry that speak of hopes and dreams. The words have been transferred to the cloth, creating an amulet to symbolise protection against evil.
 Birdwing Thompson Birdwing ButterflyTony TwiggShortly after arriving in Kuala Lumpur, I found a very appealing broken wooden box in Chinatown. Back in the studio, I put it together as an ordinary looking thing that I then tried to liven up with yellow paint. A month or two later, I was on a demolition site and found two pieces of circular something in wood. Back in the studio it was a match for my yellow construction. Once it was together I started wondering if a butterfly might be a solution to the picture, inspired by the Art of Nature show. Bee Ling came to my studio and said that I had a word on my box, and it was butterfly. Next Angela was looking at this piece and said, “Look, a yellow and black butterfly,” just like my work, outside the studio, in the garden. It is Troides aeacus Thompsonii, a male Thompson Birdwing.

The Gardener SeriesYau Bee Ling

My garden does not exist in reality but evolved as a mental picture of those who inhabit it; a garden that oscillates between dream and reality. It changes from a site for self-discovery to a place for cultivating personal vision.

Garden Object Choy Chun Wei

This is part of a series that delves into the formation of mental maps to explore human dwellings within the landscape. The garden is a place for tactile and sensory engagement, where one may expand sensibility within space.