June, 2022 - Ilham Gallery Exhibition Tour

On Wednesday 15th June we were privileged to have a guided tour of the gallery’s inaugural Art Show which will happen every 3 years. Out of 360 + applicants, 31 artists, based in Malaysia, were chosen to participate and given a grant to produce a new piece.


The art show is about the process and act of making. There are interesting narratives based on traditions, history, migration and healing, very relevant to post covid, all of which were well explained by the guide.

I was amazed by how well the exhibition space was used as many of the pieces were large installations and videos. Each artist had well written biographies and explanations of the process often including small videos. As you spend time reading the information you are drawn in even further to the pieces for a closer look.


It was good to see some controversial art and many exhibits invoked discussions.

Walking into the main hall you immediately see a series of 28 striking images hung on wooden rods. I was interested to see these were batik panels. The artist was using the traditional medium not to show motifs of flowers and plants but as a canvas to depict scarred torsos from war, exploitation of land and a monument to the rubber tappers. He likened the flow of rubber with the flow of wax.


Two video pieces were particularly interesting. One was a beautifully animated journey through a rainforest and family history, well worth the 15 minutes of visual stimulation. The other was a controversial (in today’s Malaysia) photo-video essay of two childhood friends (boys) in the 1950’s/ 60’s who were allowed to explore their sexuality as female impersonators.

There are many more interesting art works, the exhibition is well worth a visit to see where Malaysian art is now and to be visually and mentally stimulated. Thank you to the Ilham Gallery for a beautiful art space and a very diverse exhibition. On until 23 October.


Do call in the gallery shop, it has lots of interesting artisan Malaysian themed gifts, books and coffee!


Allyson Johnston