In a couple of days, Malaysia will once again be celebrating MERDEKA! This year marks our 60th Merdeka celebration and there are many exciting activities line up. Perhaps the most interesting is the fun ideas Beaconhouse Sri Lethia Klang has for their students. Teaming up with, internationally acclaimed Malaysian artist and children’s book illustrator, Yusof Ismail (or better known Yusof Gajah), the school’s students creates and reproduces their own Merdeka-themed artwork into enlarged murals.
Now, the students of Beaconhouse Sri Lethia Klang can walk into their school greeted by beautifully curated mural paintings, inspired by renowned Malaysian artist Yusof Gajah. All of this is done in conjunction of Malaysia’s 60th Merdeka celebration!
Prior to the big date, Beaconhouse Sri Lethia held an art competition with 176 students participating in it. The students showcased their creativity with themes such as as “Our Wonderful Wildlife”, “Truly Traditional”, “On Land and Under The Sea” as well as the quintessential “Malaysian Culture”. Next, eight paintings were personally selected by Yusof Gajah and will be replicated into eight acrylic murals painted on canvas.
Any idea which painting was selected? The shortlisted acrylic paintings showcased a variety of iconic Malaysian animals such as Borneo elephants, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Orang Utan, Sarawak Hornbill, Malayan Tiger and Tapir, and mousedeer (‘Kancil’) as well as famous marine species such as leatherback sea turtles, the hammerhead shark, and flamboyant cuttlefish. A traditional lion dance group, a folk Sabahan Sumazau and a sampin-clad man pulling a traditional Wau were also a significant part of the acrylic murals which personifies the various cultures in Malaysia.
After the top eight was selected, Yusof Gajah led and guided 80 of the school’s students in recreating their Merdeka-themed artwork into enlarged murals. Each of the students were given the opportunity and responsibility to lead the reproduction of their own paintings together with nine other students aged between 10-17.
The best part was they were personally guided by Yusof Gajah to reproduce their artwork onto 10ft x 5ft canvases and were also allowed to experiment further with their artwork.
Whilst the secondary students worked on their murals, the primary students (aged 7-12) were given an impromptu art class with Yusof Gajah. The artist demonstrated freestyle ways of drawing elephants while simultaneously encouraging the students to explore their own creative ways of drawing as well.
It was truly fun to see the student’s excitement and passion on their faces while they worked on the murals. Not only can we see the student’s talent for art, it’s also a great way for them to express their patriotic thoughts of our country in such a creative manner. I can certainly sees ‘why’ the students thrive under such holistic learning environment which breeds champions in leadership, diversity and creativity. Kudos to Beaconhouse Sri Lethia’s method in encouraging creativity amongst their multiracial students through art competitions. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for their students next year. Till then, keep you posted on my next learning opportunity!