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Artworks For The Soul

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but will still keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.’’

Excerpt from Endymion by John Keats


In these unprecedented times of stress caused by Covid-19, artworks can influence our mood in a positive way, making us feel happier and calmer. While some may just want to decorate their living spaces,  there are many who love to see their favourite painting after coming home from work.

‘’They actually live with their art and let it seep into the soul of their homes,’’ taking a quote from Park West Gallery in Michigan.

While we appreciate the artist’s creativity, we also value the way he helps us communicate with each other, transcending cultural boundaries and all barriers to focus on common issues. Through their messages of hope, artists inspire us to better ourselves and they often act as a vehicle for social change. Understanding the value that art has on society, we may also support the arts to help strengthen the industry.

People with a passion for art often have a strong bonding and are usually part of a community that follows the latest artistic styles and themes. Limited editions of artworks are collected as a part of the heritage and art history of a certain place, period or group of artists.

Interesting collections at The Artisans Haven range from hand and brush portraits by Sashtri Vivekanda, the works of autistic painter Kirtanraw who is well-known for his ‘swirl’ effect, the koi series from BinaSinar, abstract paintings from Vintage Artisitc Corporation (VAC), newly-designed picture frames from Asian Esteem Industrial and a growing range of treasured Safari photos from Ng Wymin (see story below).

Interesting collections at The Artisans Haven range from hand and brush portraits by Sashtri Vivekanda, the works of autistic painter Kirtanraw who is well-known for his ‘swirl’ effect, the koi series from BinaSinar, abstract paintings from Vintage Artisitc Corporation (VAC), newly-designed picture frames from Asian Esteem Industrial and a growing range of treasured Safari photos from Ng Wymin (see separate story attached).


Award-winning artist Sashtri had always loved the quote ‘Dreams is not what you see in sleep … is the thing which doesn’t let you sleep,’ by the 11th president of India (2002-2007), A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Believing that it will inspire students to dream big, Sashtri drew a portrait wall mural of him, in medium spray and wall paint, at the public library of non-governmental organization Pertubuhan Kebangkitan Tiga Tangan.

Sashtri uses different medium for every piece of artwork, for example, he uses cement concrete to give that ‘raw and brutal finish’ that characterizes the beauty of some of his pieces.

“I just love using charcoal and soft pastels,’’ said Sashtri; this is seen in the commission work on a couple and a painting of the calm Buddha in medium charcoal.

Charcoal can produce lines that are very light or intensely black, and is hard to be removed completely; this dry medium can be applied to almost any surface from smooth to very coarse.

These charcoals were often used by artists including Leonardo da Vinci, for their versatile properties.

Art builds self-confidence and to Sashtri, ‘believing in yourself is paramount to artistic success and happiness.’

Sashtri believes in practice which ‘builds the master, and only compare yourself with your former self.’

“I began in a place of very little understanding of the art world and other artists around me. Back then, I compared my work only to my earlier work, which is a safe place to build self-confidence.

“As an artist, I live for myself … I don’t care about anybody but I respect everybody,’’ said Sashtri, emphasizing that his degree in Arts was not the final answer.


In a fine example that autism is not an obstacle, autistic painter Kirtanraw warms our hearts with his works depicting nature, animal life and things around us.

His ‘swirl’ effects is best seen in his long and short brush strokes in vibrant colour combinations, something that customers like a lot.

Kirtanraw had started painting the ‘swirl’ since 2010, using oil colours that are easy to blend; he also uses acrylic as another medium to paint.

His paintings of animals range from Jimmy, the faithful  caretaker dog, to Fox News bringing good news, and his Vinayaga (referring to the God of wisdom and remover of obstacles) painting of an intelligent animal, the elephant.

The vibrant colours of flowers in a pot sends us a simple message to  ‘smile, everyday is a good day;’ rain is also a good thing, splashing down in psychedelic colours, to give us life on earth.

“Kirtanraw has his own ideas which he gains from his art journey, while exhibiting his artworks in shopping malls and art galleries; we also discuss a lot together,’’ said father and manager, Subramaniam Bandiloo.


With a theme of ‘East meets West,’ the BinaSinar concept store at The Linc, is well-known for its koi fish collection; on display is a piece depicting eight koi fishes, symbolizing wealth, health and prosperity all year round.

Most of BinaSinar’s customers are from the expatriate community living around Embassy Row at Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.

Happy drawings of nature, with colours and symbols reflecting good feng shui, are attractive features of BinaSinar’s art pieces, the ideas for which are commissioned to a pool of artists in Thailand.

Motifs of flowers in Malaysia, include those of the hibiscus and bougainvilleas; currently, of frangipanis, in white and dashes of yellow, is on sale.

“Red is the colour for this year, after a disastrous 2020 where much was wiped out by Covid-19; yellow signifies gold as many of us hope to recoup some sales and income lost,’’ said BinaSinar founder Nick Tan.


VAC has a new series of abstract oil paintings depicting nature with its calming and comforting effects.

It may be dandelions with a 3D effect, a seaside view, an abstract of a city view or fresh banana leaves with a local touch, they adorn and brighten the walls of offices and living rooms.

In an interesting twist, VAC has a painting of a pot of flowers in a combination of modern and classical design.

Handpainted by a group of 20 artists in China, are other abstracts in black and white as well as in gold and soft colours, that help to enhance modern interiors.

Sculptures of swans, horses and elephants come elegantly framed in silver wooden or wooden frames, with border wallpaper and glass and velvet backing.

While swans symbolize love, a jumping horse denotes the ability to overcome obstacles, while elephants moving in groups symbolize unity and care for each other.

VAC, which has been selling paintings by Chinese artists for the last 15 years, has a frame shop that can customize frames according to customers’ requests and preferences.

Asian Esteem

Coming up with a new decorative wall frame for pictures and ornamental displays, Asian Esteem Industrial will be launching its design of small boxes made from forest stewardship council (FSC) Eastern European pinewood.

As pinewood is more acceptable to the Western world, Asian Esteem Industrial founder B.K. Ng wants to also introduce its usage here.

Pine is a renewable resource, and pinewood is wide used in high-value carpentry items such as furniture, window frames, paneling, floors and roofing; it is also used for profiled moulding such as chair rail and picture frames.

As Ng is looking at more creative wood designs, he wants to show the world that Malaysian designers can also come up with new creations.

The Artisans Haven

As The Artisans Haven supports artists and their original works, it is hoped that the public too will help to buy their paintings while appreciating the value of their work.

Side story: Growing showcase of Safari photos

Buyers of the Safari photos that Ng Wymin had put up for sale, in aid of a good cause, showed their overwhelming support by snapping up four out of five photos. In further aid of the Gem & Bread Special Needs Support Group, Ng plans to put up for sale another 50 of the photos that he had trekked across half the globe for. In the next few months, expect more from his fascinating treasure of Safari photos as he creates his own website. Not only does Ng bring to us the greatness of nature out there, he also educates us on the need for the conservation of endangered species. Some of the Safari photos that he had painstakingly taken, for our appreciation and education. The agile photographer also recalls the unforgettable moments when he shot those photos.

Elephants with the longest trunks

The elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, have the longest trunks. Some of their trunks extend to almost ground level. This is a close-up shot of a mother and her calf that depends on her in the first years of his life. Elephants have the longest gestation period among mammals, carrying their young for 18 to 22 months, before giving birth. It has been said that such long, pre-natal developmental periods are common among highly intelligent animals.

Hippo Mom and calf

Another shot of a mother and her calf, this time of a hippopotamus, taken at the Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. A hippo mother is highly protective of her calf, carrying it in gestation for eight months. The journey there was unforgettable, as it had taken a good two-and-a-half –hours, in the smallest of a propeller plane which could only fit four persons. We had to carry some of our luggage in the plane itself.

Camels aginst the red sand

This shot of camels was taken during a non-Safari in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. We were having a tea break in the oasis when I saw a group of Bedouins riding their herd of camels. I immediately put down my cup of tea, took my camera and ran out very fast, in time to take a shot of them against the red sand of the desert.

Giraffe looking for a treat

A portrait of a giraffe with her tongue out, taken at the Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya. Giraffe Manor is a boutique hotel with its own herd of giraffes that will visit the hotel in the mornings and evenings. Poking their long necks into the windows, they are hoping for a treat from guests. One for the bucket list!

Leaping impala among wildebeests

Following an earlier photo of the wilderbeests, which was sold out, this is another shot of their great migration taken at the Maasai Maru National Reserve, Kenya. But this time, I was lucky to catch a leaping impala, a type of African antelope with long curved horns in the male and known for its ability to leap, that had joined the wilderbeests in crossing the river. Wilderbeests move in tens of thousands; it can be very dangerous for them to cross a river as many get swept off by the current, not to mention crocodiles that will pounce on them during the crossing. Still, there is a need for the wilderbeests to cross rivers in search of greener pastures.

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven




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