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Open Studios series invites you to get to know the artists in Penang

Ever wondered how artworks are created? Or what goes on in an artist’s mind?

Have those questions answered at Open Studios Penang (OSP) 2023’s final weekend where you will be able to meet and talk with such creative individuals.

Participating artists will welcome the public into their studios (or rented spaces) in George Town this weekend (Oct 14 and 15) and share rare insights about their ideas, processes and methodologies.

Others would be present at exhibitions to mingle with the masses or share tricks of the trade in hands-on workshops across several restaurants, cafes and bookshops in George Town.

It promises to be a fascinating experience that would bring many new perspectives on art – and perhaps even inspire you to start creating masterpieces yourself.

Dot mandala artist Loveleelily will teach participants how to create art pieces with just dots, like this one titled 'The Sun Of The Desert', in this weekend's workshop series. Photo: The Star/Jeremy Tan

Dot mandala artist Loveleelily will teach participants how to create art pieces with just dots, like this one titled ‘The Sun Of The Desert’, in this weekend’s workshop series. Photo: The Star/Jeremy Tan

This year’s OSP is themed The Bunny Verses – Out Of The Rabbit Hole, referencing both the reigning Chinese zodiac and the art scene bouncing back after the turbulent pandemic years.

OSP, which started in 2019, is a not-for-profit annual art series designed for artists to exchange ideas with fellow artists, and for the public to meet the artists, see them at work, and hear directly from them about their creative process.

Behind-the-scenes

OSP’s opening last weekend (Oct 7 and 8) saw a good turnout at various open studios, exhibitions, workshops and talks – including a group show cum official launch at China House.

All participating artists were present, including self-taught Alvin Koay who is best known for his intuitive, abstract expressionist painting style and use of bold colours.

“Open studios are great as it allows the public to be in the moment with an artist and see what goes on behind-the-scenes,” said Koay about hosting visitors to his art space in Pulau Tikus.

Artist Alvin Koay's open studio which give visitors an insight into how he intuitively creates his works, like this one titled 'Pandemic 2020' that represents the frustration and uncertainty of the period. Photo: The Star/Jeremy Tan

Artist Alvin Koay’s open studio which give visitors an insight into how he intuitively creates his works, like this one titled ‘Pandemic 2020’ that represents the frustration and uncertainty of the period. Photo: The Star/Jeremy Tan

Elsewhere, Syrian furniture-maker and designer Sami Succari shared about woodworking at his studio in Macallum Street; photographer Howard Tan on collages made from old images and prints at his shop along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling; and art duo Yue Qi on nature-themed paintings at their studio in Gelugor.

At Art Lane, Adnes Lee did live sketching of Christmas cards; Charles Ramachandran painted acrylic and mixed media works; Aasiyaa created floral-themed pieces; while Wendy Woon conjured up some rather realistic seascapes.

At nearby Black Kettle, Eric Yeoh showcased works that were uniquely Penang while Lee Phaik Kee exhibited her Painting Emotions portraits.

Vietnam-based George Burchett exhibited his Mother-in-Law series – a collection of 130 sculptures made with a 3D printer – at a private residence in Gurney Drive.

Though all use the same female figure as a base, each is dressed up in different costumes to create different characters, from a quintessential nyonya woman to a Japanese yakuza.

Low Chee Peng's 'Woodman' sculptures seen at Hin Bus Depot. Photo: Open Studios PenangLow Chee Peng’s ‘Woodman’ sculptures seen at Hin Bus Depot. Photo: Open Studios Penang

“I come from a classical art background so this felt like an adventure. Everything was brought to life from a two-dimensional sketch on an iPad. Everyone knows the terracotta army but now they’ll get acquainted with my mother-in-law army,” said Burchett of the series, which also has an augmented reality (AR) element.

Other exhibitions included Kaz Leong’s From Australia With Love at Jetty 35, Ooi Viv’s Savour The Art of Living at Ascott Gurney Penang, Low Chee Peng’s Woodman at Hin Bus Depot and Endangered Species by Val Smith at Gusto Cafe.

Tina Lee Degreef also provided a masterful demonstration of acrylic fluid art in her Pouring Love, Sipping Wine exhibition at Le Petit Four while cartoonist Azmi Hussin drew and interacted with crowds in his Inktober session at Hin Bus Depot.

At COEX, a section of Hin Bus Depot, a joint open studio by students Luq Zaidismail, A’aishah Latif, Ainul Syeefa, Dhiya Hamidah, Nurul Zulaikha, Afiq Safwan, Raihan Haris, Aryana Qistina and Rose Aisyah attracted many young visitors.

Immersive experiences

More programmes are lined up this weekend, such as Loveleelily’s Walking The Dots Mandala art workshop which is part of a larger art and wellness programme at Viva Victoria. She will teach participants how to create art pieces with just paint and a dotting instrument.

“You have to focus on your movements so everything else fades away. I find it rather therapeutic and hope the process can be similarly healing for others,” she pointed out.

Tina Lee Degreef demonstrating how she creates expressive fluid art paintings by pouring and manipulating acrylic paints during the 'Pouring Love, Sipping Wine' exhibition. Photo: Open Studios PenangTina Lee Degreef demonstrating how she creates expressive fluid art paintings by pouring and manipulating acrylic paints during the ‘Pouring Love, Sipping Wine’ exhibition. Photo: Open Studios Penang

Other wellness activities include the Ritual Oil Circle by Chow Xin Tong, Singing Bowl Sound Bath by Tan Han How, Soul Art And Movement by Sarah-Joy Amin, Incense Workshop by Kem Beng, Ja Yeon Padong Qi Healing by Grant Morrison and linocut printmaking by Ahmad Syadzwan.

Back at Art Lane, Nigerian artist Abdullah Sulaiman will run an oil painting workshop while textile artist Kam Woei Yann will be conducting the Dip Dye Indigo Experience.

For the latter, participants will get to dye a tote bag and t-shirt or hat and gain a better appreciation of both the ancient plant-based dye and intricate Japanese fabric art of Shibori.

“I love to backpack and was intrigued by how hill tribes in places like China, Vietnam and Thailand use indigo to dye fabrics. It’s natural, so what you create is wearable art,” said Kam.

Succari would also be conducting workshops on wood joinery at his studio in Macallum Street while artist Joshua Foo Guan Long’s Ex-Press Yourself will enlighten participants on portrait drawing.

There are also other talks and film screenings. Some of the aforementioned artists would also continue their open studios or exhibitions this weekend.

Most of the workshops have a fee and participant limit, so it is best to contact the artists in advance.