Artists’ message of hope

As the pandemic bites deeper into people’s lives and livelihoods, artists on The Artisans Haven are delving into various images and mediums to project their message of hope.

Poesy Liang is extending her signature works into Latte art.

Soon, you will see her famous Rooftop Cat, now evolved into Harry Putter, making his celebrity appearance over a fancy cup of coffee.

“This lockdown is a great time to pick up new skills,’’ says the energetic Poesy. “By the end of the pandemic, you will see Harry Putter in latte art on social media.’’

She may not be travelling abroad, but she’s ‘rolling at full steam,’ pitching to design corporate merchandise for clients in the finance industry.

And Harry Putter may not only be featured in a birthday book; he’ll be making his debut in five children’s story books that Poesy is working on, with leading American educator and best-selling author, Dr Esther Wojcicki, aka the godmother of Silicon Valley.

Very soon, the collection of Harry Putter merchandise, currently on US e-commerce company Etsy, will move to its own online shop at www.harryputter.shop.

The journey of Harry Putter is closely followed by Poesy’s fans; the Rooftop Cat is actually her self-portrait which she started to paint repetitively at the end of 2011.

It may look somewhat like a magical cat on top of the roof, plotting to reach the moon and finally, flying off on a humble broomstick.

“I just realized that I was a Rooftop Cat in late 2016,’’ says Poesy.

The early years were, for her, dark and lonely, filled with hardships.

“I had incurred medical debts of RM100,000 which took seven years to clear,’’ says Poesy who has survived three rounds of surgeries to remove spinal tumours.

Her hospital debt finally cleared in 2014, after which the cat started to don a superhero cape and a pair of fancy boots … he continues to dream.

It wasn’t until 2015 that he finally found his breakthrough and took flight towards the idealistic full moon.

“It is a story of inspiration,’’ says Poesy. “People are now finding life very tough; before, most of them were salaried and they are not equipped to survive crises.’’

Poesy has just launched a Pavilion-sized ‘shipwreck’ installation called the Pirate’s Daughter, consisting of 62 ship wheels, 38 storm lamps, seven ship oars, three hunting spears, three Western swords and other artefacts that had belonged to her family for the past 40 years.

“It is about loss, solace and self-redemption,’’ says Poesy, in a message especially relevant in current times of upheaval from the pandemic.

This show is in transition, possibly, to a prestigious museum or a large hotel lobby in future.

Currently staged at Poesy’s private gallery called Abundantia, Malaysians will get to experience it through virtual viewing.

For more details, follow Poesy on social media channels.

Looking ahead, Chee Li Har is reimagining a future where people can socialize and work responsibly together again.

She will be launching a new series of artwork acrylic bags in the fourth quarter of 2021.

CHeeKS iconic Bags Originals make use of embroidery, rhinestones, sequins and blings as the delivery medium, and the acrylic box bag is her canvas.

She sees the need to change in line with current demand where there is greater appreciation for ‘unassuming but useful items in our lives which have become more confined.’

With a dash of colour vibrancy, the end results are beautiful, joyful items that we can use daily or gift to others.

At GoCHeeKS, this translates to monthly releases of comfortable and very stylish face masks, with a unique series where no two pieces are alike.

“Within the current confined existence, as an artist, I continue to push the boundaries in face mask textures from cotton to silk satin, lace, metallic coating to denim.

“We need to continually change and adapt for the best possible outcome for ourselves and the world,’’ says Chee. “I focus on the joy of being alive, productive and in a position to lend a helping hand.’’

Times are certainly more challenging now, with reduced consumer confidence and spending.

“We need to adapt to create joyful, unique artworks that are useful at the same time,’’ says Chee.

With so much focus on hygiene, some of the 2021 creations had merged this concern with style in mind, as in the GoCHeeKS Pouches that come in S and L sizes.

People nowadays use more than one pouch; since the pandemic, they tend to separate their sanitizers or sprays in one and extra masks, tissues and other items that come into contact with the mouth, in another.

Some also prefer to keep their phones in the GoCHeeKS Pouch S size, to keep them clean and away from other items in their bags.

The S size pouch is slightly bigger than the size of a handphone, and is very popular; it is sewn using Chee’s original artwork prints entitled ‘Four Seasons’ and has a tassle at the zip.

The L size GoCHeeKS pouch is also of the same material, with a tassle, and fits an iPAD.

Some of Chee’s designs are done with work-from-home in mind; Bling A Patch tees are good for those who want to look presentable, and yet feel comfortable when working from home.

Colourful Patchwork Scrunchies is another simple, artsy creation for ladies to tie up their hair in a lovely way even when working from home.

Chee also has many original artworks that will be sent soon for fabric printing, that’s when we will see more designs from this versatile artist.

In times of crisis, Sashtri Vivekananda sees that we ‘need humanity, love and the community that the arts create.’

“Art allows us to communicate, appreciate and hope during this severe crisis triggered by Covid-19,’’ says Sashtri.

At times like these, people look for love and comfort; they request for portraits of their loved ones, to show their respect and bonding with each other.

The Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted a sudden and substantial impact on artists.

“The only avenue we have right now is through digital marketing via The Artisans Haven and other social media to build back our careers,’’ says Sashtri.

Through digital marketing such as Instagram, Sashtri has received some orders for portrait and wall art paintings, as well as some of the favourite deities.

Autistic artist Kirtanraw has a current series on rain, painted in vibrant colours and his well-known ‘swirl effect’

He’s getting more requests for paintings based on this theme, where ‘rain’ to some, signifies money which is in short supply now, with many jobs and businesses affected by the rising Covid-19 cases.

It also reflects the monsoon season where rain pours from the sky to refresh and give life to plants and vegetation around us.

People also find love and comfort in their pets. Kirtanraw’s new collection includes paintings of different angles of a furry rabbit.

Fierce animals become friendly with his brush stroke, he has painted a chubby tiger and a furry fox; nevertheless, they represent images of strength and cleverness in human beings’ attempts to overcome this Covid-19.

Kirtanraw is also working on some pyrography art, with some that are still work in progress.

The art of pyrography involves the use of a heated metal pen to burn wood and other materials, to create a decorative pattern.

Kirtanraw is busy, and that is a good sign!

Tenny Cheah is a talented artist from Klang. He does oil painting on canvas and board. His latest collection in The Artisans Haven shows calm, inspiring sceneries. Against all odds, Tenny Cheah pursues his love for painting scenery even when dealing with the effects of a stroke he had in 2015. That stroke, triggered by an inoperable brain tumour, has landed him in a situation where there’s not been much of a life over these past six years.

Yet he struggles on, painting scenes of trees, greenery and other calming sights that are soothing and relevant in these troubled times of pandemic.
Most of his art is done with depth of field effects, which is the ‘blur effect’ in photography; this is a way to detach an object from the background and redirect attention to certain areas of the scene, or to add an artistic touch.

Tenny was about to start painting a series on clouds when he received an offer for job training in customer service at a large online shopping platform.
The recruiter had contacted Tenny under okujobs.com where he had listed his previous experience in customer service and indoor sales.
So far, he has sold one painting and would welcome more support for his artistic venture.


The artists on The Artisans Haven do not give up but adapt to the new environment of change and hope.

We pray that these this dark cloud caused by Covid-19 will pass, and we can all breathe freely again.

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven


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