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

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.

Art for Nature 2004: Paradise Lost

Art for Nature 2004: Paradise Lost

para_lostfoundYOURS TO CHOOSE – it’s in your heart

This year’s exhibition deals with personal definitions of paradise and explores our roles in creating or destroying these ideal places. Malaysian reefs and rainforests resemble descriptions of paradise on earth and yet we continue to destroy them at an astonishing rate. How do concepts of paradise guide our actions? Can they lift us outside our immediate concerns? Can we save our paradise?

Art for Nature will be open to the public from
September 25th – October 10th 2004
at Rimbun Dahan, 10am – 6pm

The word paradise conjures up a range of image. We tend to think of paradise as a place; beautiful, idyllic and free of suffering. Often tropical beaches and rainforests are described as paradise on earth. Pleasure may or may not be included but paradise always includes settings of natural wonder.

Paradise also carries a strong spiritual association. The Garden of Eden that man inhibited before the realization of Original Sin is often described as being like paradise. Heaven is also described as Paradise.

Islam, Christianity and some forms of Mahayana Buddhism incorporate concepts of paradise as reward for man’s good works on earth. In this way, paradise exists on an alternative/higher level of reality and is reachable through man’s choices. This dimension of will and effort is an important consideration. Paradise is both a spiritual goal and a personal goal. We strive to use action to reach an invisible ideal.

Yet the concept of paradise is not defined by religion but holds a universal appeal. Most powerfully, the concept of paradise is a metaphor for a state of being, free form guilt, suffering and pain. Unlike ecstasy or bliss, paradise does not carry the associations of enjoying pleasure but rather is a happy state that we can attain and earn.

Some dimensions explored by the contributing artists include personal definitions or paradise, spiritual or secular; paradise as an environ or paradise as an absolute state of being; is paradise a cultural or personally defined state or place?; does it exist physically or mentally? Note that one can be in paradise and not recognise it until it is destroyed or withdrawn.

This year’s theme takes its inspiration from the epic poem by John Milton, Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained. For those who may be interested in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the poem provides rich imagery. It was written just after the time of Shakespeare and finished in 1667. The book is a way into the theme and does not have to be involved in your deliberations.

In Paradise Lost, Satan leads a rebellion against God and is thrown out of Heaven with all the heavenly beings who sided with him. To decide on their course of action, he opens the debate to all his followers to decide what to do next. They decide on exploring the new world of man. Earth is the only dimension that has a gate to heaven and so is the only way possible to approach heaven. Prophecy states that God will create a new world: Earth. Chief amongst his world is man.

God gave man the gift of free will, the choices of good or evil are up to him. The rebellious angels decide to tempt man instead of attacking heaven directly. Created as the first man and woman, Adam and Eve live in blissful ignorance in the Garden of Eden. God’s only requirement is that they do not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.

The poem continues to describe Satan’s successful persuasion of Eve to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. After Eve and then Adam eat of the fruit, they are cast out of Eden and doomed to make their way with life on earth.

— Laura Fan, curator


Laura Fan

contributing artists

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 Adline
Jalaini Abu Hassan
Malcolm Utley
Nadiah Bamadhaj
Noor Mahnun Mohamed
Nur Hanim bt Mohamed
Raja Shahriman
Saiful Razman
Sharmiza Abu Hassan
Shooshie Sulaiman
Tara Sosrowardoyo
Terry Law
the clickproject
Umibaizurah Mahir

Art for Nature 2003: Games People Play

Art for Nature 2003: Games People Play
Ahmad Zakii Anwar Breath 2003 oil on canvas 68 x 200 cm

Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Breath, 2003, oil on canvas, 68 x 200 cm.

afnlogoThis year’s exhibition involves the concept of playing games. In different contexts, play can have positive and negative meanings and outcomes. Playing builds friendships, tests physical and mental skills and develops the ability to concentrate. The danger arises when people play at policy or relationships without considering how it affects others. Policy makers play with the environment, threatening the ecosystem; and in relationships, people play with their lovers or people around them to gratify their ego. In any case the games people play affect all of us.

Playing games is an activity that occupies our lives from childhood and beyond. In youth, playing builds friendships, tests physical and mental skills and develops concentration.

Yet, as adults, games take on a more complex nature. In every language, play as a word has both positive and negative meanings. When a person tries to cover up a hurtful comment they might say main main sahaja or jyou shr kai wan siau, both meaning I’m just joking. Romance also uses the language of games with main mata or the angry accusation that someone is just playing with you and not taking the relationship seriously.

Games on their own are neutral. They require an agreed upon set of rules, clear objectives and a willingness to suspend disbelief. We have to step out of our lives for a game to be fully played. Sometimes the game becomes confused with life or becomes so attractive that we find ways to make it a crucial part of our lives.

The danger arises when others play at policy or relationships without considering how it affects the fabric of life. Policy makers may play with the environment, imposing grandiose structure that will destroy endangered species or threaten fragile ecosystems. Rather than considering the impact of their actions, the fleeting goals of pride and greed are fed in the game of power accumulation.

In relationships, people play at love to gratify their ego or provide distraction from pressing issues at home. Romance serves as an escape from reality, the reality of ageing, emotional complexity or financial concerns.

Play can also be a very positive activity. As a means to build up the skills to make changes in life, playing with something or as someone else may help to give one the confidence to make necessary changes. Additionally, play is a crucial ingredient for creativity. Artists, designers and architects use the freeing power of play to learn what happy accidents can reveal. Without play, creativity is impossible.

— Laura Fan, curator

Anne Morrison, From 'Hybrid series' 1. Hive 2. Pod 3. Spore 4. Scale Size: 71.5 x 71.5cm (each work) Medium: oil on canvas

Anne Morrison, From ‘Hybrid series’ 1. Hive 2. Pod 3. Spore 4. Scale, Size: 71.5 x 71.5cm (each work), Medium: oil on canvas

Contributing Artists

  • Laura Fan (Curator)
  • Abdul Multhalib Musa
  • Ahmad Shukri Mohamed
  • Ahmad Zakii Anwar
  • Anne Morrison
  • Bayu Utomo Radjikin
  • Bibi Chew
  • Chang Yoong Chia
  • Chong Siew Ying
  • Choy Chun Wei
  • Chuah Chong Yong
  • Eric Chan
  • Ilse Noor
  • Jalaini Abu Hassan
  • Jasmine Kok
  • Noor Mahnun Mohamed
  • Ramlan Abdullah
  • Sharmiza Abu Hassan
  • Shooshie Sulaiman
  • Sidney Tan
  • Terry Law
  • the clickproject
  • Troy Ruffels
  • Umibaizurah Mahir
  • Yau Bee Ling
  • Yee I-Lann
  • Yusof Majid
  • Wong Perng Fey
  • Nur Hanim bt Mohamed Khairuddin