#TeamClarissa: Keeping traditional art alive

#TeamClarissa got their culture on at the Seni Kome art gallery in Genting Highlands, where they learnt just how important it is to preserve our culture! Full story:

BTW, registration for our year-end camp is now open! Wanna be part of the #BRATsFam? Log on to todaaay

Posted by BRATs on Monday, 2 October 2017



Cheah is the head curator of SeniKome Peng Heng.


SENIKOME Peng Heng is a contemporary art gallery in Genting Highlands that is dedicated to the preservation of Malaysia’s east coast traditions, art and culture. Located in First World Plaza, SeniKome derives its unique name from the local Pahang dialect, which directly translates to “Our Art”.

Open in June 2017, with a goal to educate the public on the cultures of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, SeniKome features art that is based on the traditions of the east coast but with a contemporary twist. It aims to attract younger visitors through the use of technology.

iPads were conveniently situated in various parts of the gallery with descriptions, pictures, music and videos of the artwork put on display; patrons could listen to traditional music like the Gamelan Melayu, which was historically played only during royal occasions.

To provide a more interactive and interesting setting for younger children as well as adults, traditional games such as congkak and capteh were available to visitors with demonstrations of how to play the games from the staff members of SeniKome.

When asked why SeniKome displays artwork that has a contemporary feel, head curator Wening Cheah, who is in her early 30s, explained that it would attract and resonate better with the younger generation.

Artwork from award-winning artists such as the iron sculptures of men performing the silat by Raja Shahriman, paintings of dancing characters by Sivarajah Nataraja and wood carvings by Norhaiza Noordin are the prominent pieces that successfully capture the essence of SeniKome.

“The east coast has a very strong, iconic art and culture. For example, you can immediately recognise the batik from Kelantan, the songket from Terengganu and also Pahang’s tenunan,” said Cheah as she explained the specialty of the artwork displayed in SeniKome.

While the art scene in Malaysia is not very well-known to the majority of the society, it has however, been well-received internationally. Cheah cited the Shanghai World expo a few years back as an example where Malaysian art stood out due to its uniqueness.

“For the older generation who visit us, our exhibits bring them a feeling of nostalgia. But for the younger ones, they haven’t had a chance to experience these things because they grew up in a different time.”

Hence, imparting more knowledge to the younger generation is what SeniKome aims to do in the next five years, but the future of traditional art is still very uncertain.

In fact, when sourcing for the permanent art collection that is currently hanging on SeniKome’s wall, Cheah realised just how scarce young artists dabbling in traditional art forms were.

“Fewer and fewer artists are making the wau,” said Cheah. Therefore, she encourages the younger generation and upcoming artists to continue practising traditional crafts before they become a lost art. “Without culture, we are no one. Culture represents our history, our past generation and the stories passed down to us.”

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