June 2019 - Hope Art Exhibition
Hope Art Exhibition, April 8 - June 10, 2019
(June 1, 2019 written by Pamela de Lange, photos by Caroline Amberg)

After our May visit to the Leprosy settlement and museum in Sungai Buloh MCG members were invited to the National Art Gallery (Balai Seni Negara) along Jalan Tun Razak to see this very special exhibition. Caroline kindly organised this visit.


Our tour guide was Dr Ibrahim is Medical Officer at the “Valley of Hope” Sungai Buloh Settlement with special responsibility for inmates’ issues. He guided us through the Hope Art Exhibition followed by a brief overview on the settlement and leprosy history for those who could not attend the explorer’s tour in May.


During the past year a number of volunteers have worked with patients and taught them to work with watercolour, oil, ink and even created 3D pieces all inspired by a certain theme. Very impressive were the portraits drawn, mostly from memory, of friends or family members and fellow patients on pages of old books. These were artfully displayed hanging at and from the ceiling with fishing lines. The fishing lines were symbolic for notes attached to fishing rods which in the past were thrown over the walls of the settlement by family members of patients who did not want to come in, afraid to catch the illness themselves.



Looking at the art works we were even more impressed considering the fact that most of the patients who have created these pieces are missing their fingers due to their long term illness.


At the end of the tour we could watch a few ‘hero-stories’ of the life of patients, many of them having lived in the settlement for most of their lives. If you are interested you can watch the videos yourselves under this link: https://www.valleyofhope.my/hero-stories

The Star newspaper has written a beautiful article about this exhibition. See below some extracts and at the bottom is the link to read the full piece:

"This exhibition is a vibrant and heartfelt presentation of their artistic skills, with its main piece being the Tree Of Hope, a large-scale installation placed in the middle of the gallery.
From floor to ceiling, some 2,000 faces drawn on loose, yellowed sheets of paper from old books are linked to each other with fishing lines."

"The Hope Art Exhibition features a variety of works, from watercolour to ink markers, oil pastels to Powertex sculptures, and other mixed media installations. It is a heartfelt reflection of life – happiness, sadness and some cute quirkiness – by the people who know the Valley of Hope’s living history the best."


Also on display are selected artefacts used by patients in the past, and which are on loan from the Valley of Hope Museum, and 12 architectural sketches of the Valley of Hope buildings and other structures. Photographs of the current residents working on their art are lovingly captured in this exhibit as well.

Hanging from the exhibition’s Tree Of Hope are brown “fruits”, a nod to the early treatment for leprosy, where oil was distilled from the fruits of the Hydnocarpus wightiana, a tree that grows up to 10m tall. These days, a multi-drug therapy is the choice of treatment.

Valley of Hope is now on the tentative list for the UNESCO world heritage nomination.

Read more by clicking here.