Cultural collaboration program
The Australia-Malaysia Institute's (AMI) cultural program develops and supports collaboration initiatives in the arts which foster sustainable institutional and people-to-people links.
In 2012–2013 the AMI funded a range of cultural institutions and artists in Malaysia and Australia.
Contemporary Malaysian theatre comes to Brisbane
Parah, a contemporary Malaysian theatre piece by the Instant Cafe Theatre Company, offers a nuanced exploration of personal identity and racial tension, exploring how identity is comprised, whether it is the concept of home, language spoken, religion practiced, or familial heritage, and to what degree do these aspects of ourselves determine our futures. Five performances and a Q&A session were presented at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Powerhouse's 2013 World Theatre Festival.
The members of the Instant Cafe Theatre Company brought such vibrancy of Malaysia to their performances, forum and Q&A, as well as their engagement with the festival and audience outside their work schedule, that they have been requested to return with a new piece for World Theatre Festival in 2014.
The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT)
'The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT) is the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art's (QAGOMA) flagship international contemporary art project. APT7 featured new and recent works by 75 established and emerging artists and groups from 27 countries across the region, many of whom had not shown in Australia before. The exhibition was complemented by an extensive free education program and range of public programs featuring lectures, artist talks, tours.'
The exhibition featured a dynamic presentation of contemporary visual arts from Malaysia, with two artists from Malaysia, neither of whom had shown in Australia before. Roslisham Ismail (aka Ise) developed a richly illustrated artist book project based on the unique culture and cuisine of his home state of Kelantan. Drawing upon stories and recipes from families (including his own), he reflected upon the history, culture and society of Kelantan, which shares many traditions with neighbouring southern Thailand. He also developed a project for the Children's Art Centre, introducing Kelantan culture and cuisine to children through the Gallery's Café.
Phuan Thai Meng created his largest painting to date, commissioned especially for APT7. It comprised of a 10-metre mural featuring a photorealist image of city freeways and flyovers. The surface of the canvas was then sliced in parts onsite by the artist, revealing the wooden support beneath, suggesting the constantly changing urban landscape.
Both artists in APT7 were directly involved in education and public programs including, artist talks and panel discussions over the opening weekend.
Citra Malaysia 2012
Citra Malaysia is an annual event run by the Malaysian Students Council of Australia to showcase Malaysia's unique cultural diversity through arts and crafts exhibitions, traditional games, sports and costumes and food. The highlight of the festival is a range of traditional dance, music, and theatre performances by Malaysian students.
Inaugural Collaboration - Queensland Youth Symphony and Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
Founded in 1966, the 95-member Queensland Youth Symphony (QYS) tours internationally once every four years.
In 2012, as part of a 3-week international tour, QYS undertook its first ever tour to Malaysia. The visit included a joint rehearsal with members of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) and a combined performance by MPYO and QYS of Dukas's "Sorcerer's Apprentice" at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas Concert Hall in Kuala Lumpur. MPYO undertook a reciprocal visit to Brisbane in December 2012 for rehearsals and performances.
This was the first tour undertaken by the MPYO outside of Malaysia and Singapore. Patricia Kelly, Music Reviewer, said of the Brisbane performance that "these young Malaysian musicians showed how music can be a powerful and vital link across cultural and racial boundaries."
Masterclasses and Lectures at UiTM, Performances at the Malaysian Composer's Series
UiTM's Malaysian Composers' Series Festival at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre aims to promote and nurture new composition works by students and other composers in Malaysia. Performances of works by Australian composers as part of the series enhanced artistic collaboration between the two countries.
Student participation in a series of master classes and lectures regarding music performance, cello technique, anatomy, and music composition for cello, also enhanced educational and social links. Months of preparation and private rehearsal prior to the project ensured that the Australian participants were able to tailor the level of the content to the specific needs of the students in these contexts, providing opportunities for artistic and technical development outside of the normal tuition received in Malaysia.
Storyology: Ideas write now! (Journalism in the Asian Century stream)
Malaysian journalist Steven Gan, co-founder of Malaysia's independent publication participated in the “Journalism in the Asian Century” stream at the Walkley Foundation’s Storyology conference in Sydney in August 2013.
ournalists from Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, and India a panel discussion with other visiting journalists, including the head of Al Jazeera English Al Anstey, and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr participated in an exchange of ideas and discussions with Australian journalists exploring, the critical role the media plays in reporting on international relations, big picture issues in the Asia Pacific region and issues common to journalists across the region.
More than 200 people attended the Stories in the Asian Century Day that opened the conference. All discussions from the Asian Century day were live streamed and just under 2200 people tuned in over the webcast from around Australia, the UK, USA, Canada, NZ, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Japan, Spain, and Portugal.
Asialink Artists' Residencies in Malaysia
In 2012–2013 the AMI was delighted to be involved in co-sponsoring two artists residencies for two Australians in the areas of dance, sound and music, and visual arts. Visual Artist Bec Stevens completed a major body of site-specific photographs during her residency at Rimbun Dahan, Kuang.
Kath Papas participated in the curation and programming of the Melaka Arts and Performance Festival and at an Indonesian based festival. Both residents have ongoing contact with the arts community in which they were based.
Australian Boys Choir Malaysian Tour 2013
The Australian Boys Choir and The Vocal Consort presented two major concerts of Australian choral music in Kuala Lumpur in July 2013 as part of a two week performance and educational tour. Entitled "Whispering Winds", the concert program included Malaysian premieres and works that reflect the choir's enthusiasm for Australian composers, including works by Percy Grainger, Joseph Twist and Matthew Orlovich.
The Choir performed together with Malaysian choristers in joint concerts throughout Malaysia and took part in music education workshops with schools and community groups in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, including the KL Children's Choir (Young Choral Academy), Sam Tet Secondary School, Seafield Secondary School and Kian Kok Middle School. The tour also included the exploration of a 'sister choir' arrangement in Kuala Lumpur with the KL Children's Choir for future sharing of compositions, performances and the touring of a Malaysian choir in Australia.
Inspire South East Asia (SEA)
The Inspire SEA camp aimed to inspire underprivileged lower-secondary-school students to strive for personal and academic excellence and to improve their English language skills, to enhance their capacity as self-reliant, responsible, committed and action-oriented future leaders of the country. The camp introduced modules of different school subjects including Biology, Physics, Chemistry and general knowledge. These were in the form of interactive games that would instil an interest in learning and encourage the students to become critical thinkers. Inspire also incorporated sports and health talks to impart on the students the importance of the balance of life apart from academics. Throughout the camp, the students were encouraged to speak and express themselves in English
The program also encouraged greater compassion towards the local community by Malaysian students studying overseas. The organisers reported that they had also gained many new skills and experienced new insights into the life of rural school children in Malaysia which will enable them to undertake more projects of this kind in the future.