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Thursday, 1 December 2011


Just came back from the Official Award Ceremony of 2011 Tanjong Heritage Art Competition at Novotel Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. 

Congratulations to  :
1. All the winners (art students) 
2. All their lecturers or mentors
3. All the participating art schools (especially those with winning entries)

...and most importantly, to Tanjong Public Limited Company (TPLC), which has been organizing this competition for an amazing 11 years without any break. So far, despite being taken as more 'traditional' (in its categorization of entries), it has been one of the most 'sustainable' art competitions in the country. The competition, though considered as 'minor' in comparison to other more louder national level art competitions, has been a 'rite of passage' so-to-speak for many aspiring young art students. Few of them have even become emerging and major young artists in the country today. 

Congratulations and a big thank you all the TPLC staff members for their professionalism in handling everything.

Thank you also to all my fellow judges, Assoc. Prof. Jailani Abu Hassan (visual artists/lecturer at UiTM), Lawrence Loh (conservation architect), Dr. Kim Paik Lah (science education specialist), Elizabeth Cardosa (Badan Warisan) and Puan Wairah Marzuki (ex-Director General of the then National Art Gallery). Assoc. Prof. Fauzan Omar (USM) was supposed to be one of the judges but he could not make it then due to illness. 

Art competition is more than just a form of acknowledgment and validation. If approached positively (minus emotion-laden sentiment and overblown ego), it can be a valuable testing and learning experience (in fact, for the judges as well). Beyond simply 'winning' the prizes, it teaches art students about having a 'winning' spirit and attitude. Other than testing oneself, it prepares the students to deal with the ebb and flow of our increasingly highly competitive art scene (or matrix). It can also be reflective of some important dimension of being an artist, that is to sustain, preserver and survive with a winning attitude (even in what appear to be losing, on the surface). 

Personally when it comes to art competition, I have been in multiple positions - a student participant, a loser (entries rejected even from being exhibited), a sore loser and emotional critic (of judges' choice), an award winner, a judge, a chief judge, and even an adviser. I have been judging numerous art competitions, I lost count already. When it comes to judging art competition, it involves subjective evaluation (and eventual heated debates) by more than one person (no matter how 'objective' and detail the judging guideline or criteria can be). Nobody can be satisfied. 

What is more important is knowledge production, that is how one can learn from a competition and how a particular competition can contribute in developing a body of knowledge for further discourses and references.   

I have given my comments on the entries in my previous blog entry, so no need to repeat here.

Just to note that I was pleased to meet few proud lecturers who came along to give their winning students moral support and encouragement. Amongst them include my guru/artist Ponirin Amin (UiTM), my ex-student Suhaimi Tohid (now teaching at UiTM too), Dato Raja Zahabuddin (Dean, School of Art & Design UNISEL), Hashim Hassan (UNISEL), Zaim (Part-time lecturer at UNISEL) and Ricardo Chaves (Equator Art Academy, Penang). Sadly, and ironically this year, USM students didn't receive any prize. I'm not involved in teaching the fine art students in USM, so I'm in no position to comment here.

I had a good time chatting with Dato Robert Cheim, Chairman of the TPLC, Mr. Gerard (forgot his position, but definitely up there. Sorry Gerard!) and all the judges. Amongst many things (in between poking fun and cracking jokes), we talked about the sustainability of the competition; the need for TPLC to start seriously re-collect, document, evaluate, insure and manage their growing art collection professionally; the next steps for the winning students; the need for art students to know and understand the 'structure/system/matrix' that which they will operate within if they decided to be practicing artists; and the need for art students to  read, and develop theoretical or critical thinking skill. Even the business of art as well as the economics, are now taken as integral (not isolated) parts of cultural studies and critical theories, where everything is inter-connected. In a globalized (and googlelized) world of post-capitalist society that we are connected to now, economy is one of the major driving forces in the arts that can't be brushed aside.

The role played by passionate and supporting lecturers in guiding their participating students is also crucial. Committed, passionate and supporting lecturers play a major role in augmenting like-wise students, thus the sustainability and quality of entries. During the judging, I had a disturbing hunch that such species are beginning to become extinct. I hope I am wrong.

Enough whining! 

Time to see pictures of the winning works (with apology for not being able to put the details, too tedious). Enjoy.....

Drawing category:

Mixed media category:

Oil/Acrylic category:

Printmaking category :

Watercolor category:

For my comments, click on


  1. good to have proper re-collection and archive of previous winning entries.. much potential to study and reflect the growing of local art education for the last decade... hope TPLC able to see the value of its collections. thanks for sharing, En Hasnul

  2. Thanks for another wonderful piece of sharing. Of many that was written, I felt sad about the last part of your sharing. I have met many wonderful lecturers but like you said "they are beginning to become extinct." It takes both the students and lecturers to avoid such calamity- as least that I what I am feeling now.

  3. It is a relief to see that these works reflects the genuine expression of what is considered to be a student level of fine arts expression. Kudos!! no 'Abstract' pieces! Genuine understanding of medium and skills in rendition...the nonsense can come later call them what you may and call them art but in the meantime earn your 'rights of passage'(as students or budding artist) to deserve the title as an artist.
    The greatness of the teacher /instructor is when his student's ability surpasses his.

  4. Heard from a reliable source that Tanjong wants to replace me with another judge for this year's competition. I'm all for it. Thank you.