John Clewley

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: The artist who wants the Rafflesia; Thai colourful culture

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:


Heritage trails in Singapore worth checking out
The Straits Times, Singapore

SINGAPORE – Are you bored of Covid-19 constraints and looking for something novel to do?

What about pounding the streets of Singapore to learn more about our history?

There is a variety of heritage walks and tours available, some of which are free.

You can opt for a knowledgeable guide or explore neighbourhoods on your own.

You may discover, like I did, that objects that have always been there – sitting in corners or standing in plain sight – may have cultural significance.

[Read more…]

Photo: John Clewley
Sounds like Thainess
Bangkok Post, Thailand

I went to my first concerts in six months last week. The Department of Cultural Promotion held a week-long series of shows from Sept 15-20 as part of a festival that featured national artists from the Kingdom’s four regions.

The main stage was set up outside at the Thailand Cultural Centre, between the two auditoriums, and seating was socially distanced with a gap of several metres between the stage and the audience.

On the first afternoon, an opening ceremony with speeches was followed by a drum performance (there were several kinds drum ensembles throughout the festival, and some, especially from the North, were very good) that segued into an hour-long performance by southern luk thung star Ekachai Srivichai. Between songs, he explained that he was keen for the younger generation to understand the different cultures that exist in Thailand. He then did funny pastiches of some of the traditional regional singing styles, including a brief explanation of the southern region’s famous Nora dance, with the assistance of a brilliant performer.

Photo via The Star


Revisit the golden age of Malaysian music inspired by Ilham Gallery’s photography exhibit
The Star, Malaysia

A throwback concert of Malaysian folk songs and silver screen classics will be held in conjunction with photography exhibition Bayangnya Itu Timbul Tenggelam: Photographic Cultures In Malaysia at Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 10.

Warisan By VerSeS will feature The KL Madrigal Singers, with special guest Dr Yi-Li Chang (from Taiwan) on violin. It is the first music programme at Ilham Gallery since its post-MCO reopening in July.

The songs in Warisan will be presented in a combination of classical voice solos, a cappella choral and violin solo. The repertoire, which includes songs like Potong Padi, Bengawan Solo, Suriram, Anak Ayam, Anak Odeng, Mak Inang and Getaran Jiwa, is inspired by the pop culture section in the Bayangnya Itu Timbul Tenggelam exhibition that features a selection of Malaysian magazine and vinyl from the 1950s to 1970s.

“For those who loved the originals, this concert should provide an enjoyable and refreshing take on the music to be enjoyed alongside the wonderful exhibition,” says musical director Scott Woo.

[Read more…]


Illustration by JL JAVIER/Photo from RAXENNE MANIQUIZ
Meet the illustrator documenting Philippine flora, one map at a time
CNN Life, Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — “They look like aliens,” says illustrator Raxenne Maniquiz. “They just look so unreal to me.” Maniquiz is talking about the slipper orchids — or Paphiopedilums — which she drew in her own style, from online databases of Philippine plants, and free publications on ResearchGate.

A graphic designer at Plus63 Design Co, in her own time, she has been working on a sustained personal project, drawing endemic flowers published as zines, or maps of the Philippines.

She got the idea after the geographer David Garcia showed her a flower distribution map of the U.S. Since then, she’s turned her hand and eye to rafflesias, which she planned to see flowering in Los Banos earlier this year until the pandemic upended her plan.

“Niyaya ko ’yung friends ko kahit na sinusuka ako ni mother nature,” she says, recalling the time she tried trekking to research something for a client before. She ended up covered in rashes. “Pero sabi ko, I want to see a Rafflesia before I die.”

[Read more…]


(JP/I Wayan Juniarta)
Nyoman Erawan: Painting in the time of pandemic
Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Without the silvery goatee that for decades has been his signature look, Nyoman Erawan’s face looked, well, much more innocent. The skeptical and often impatient facial expressions were gone, replaced by a sort of harmless demeanor.

Obviously, he was aware of that change and regretted it. “I shaved it a couple days ago and now I feel like I’ve lost my rough edges a little bit,” he chuckled.

Losing the goatee might have tamed his outer appearance but did nothing to diminish his spirit. The 62-year-old visual artist is still as restless as he was three decades ago when he made the leap of faith into the realm of art.

It was that restless mind that spurred him to dig deeper into the island’s myths and symbols, questioning the purposes and rationales behind every rite and offering, and, thus, finding the substance that lay within the heart of every form.

[Read more…]

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar.

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About the author(s)

Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.

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