With 23 Sixth Form pupils and three beaks in tow, the MCM Senior Art department left our usual surroundings and were northward-bound to Kuala Lumpur. Each year Malaysia hosts an Art Expo, similar to Singapore’s Art Stage, and it is hailed as the longest-running art fair in South-East Asia. When our group arrived, we were welcomed by some of the biggest names in art from leading galleries in Asia and beyond. Pupils (and beaks) were blown away by the standard and variety of work from around the globe. America, Spain, Japan, Indonesia and many other countries showcased contemporary and stylistically diverse artworks from some of the most outstanding emerging artists. When creatively full, it was time to head into the city centre and dine on local street food under the bright lights of the Petronas Towers.
Saturday morning saw us back to the Art Expo to analyse artwork and examine how to curate a show, all vital parts of the IB Visual Arts syllabus. After a quick pit stop to refuel, we headed to ILHAM Art Gallery, a modern art gallery in the city centre. ILHAM is a public art gallery committed to supporting the development, understanding and enjoyment of Malaysian modern and contemporary art within a regional and global context. For many of our students, this gallery was an absolute highlight and we were treated to a diverse range of works with a political message, all from artists hailing from the South-East Asia region. Students were asked by the gallery’s docent to choose an artwork for different scenarios (for example, “Facebook has asked you to decorate its new HQ in India) which gave our pupils an insight into curation and the power of symbolism and communication in art. Later that evening we enjoyed our last dinner out as a group at a local restaurant overlooking the Esplanade fountain, before heading to the night market for some street photography and drawing.
Our last morning saw us up bright and early for one last stop at the Islamic Museum of Art where we saw the impressive craft and historical artefacts from the region. A quick lunch at Central Market and a drawing task rounded out this whirlwind tour of our capital city. By the time we boarded the coach to return home, pupils were tired but the positive atmosphere was palpable. This week in lessons we have been so impressed with the ideas and excitement students have shown about creating new work. It is an important and enjoyable part of the course for pupils to view artwork in its intended context, as well as engage with a variety of works. We are thrilled that the department’s first away-trip was successful and we hope to offer more opportunities for our artists in the future.