From folklore to flowers, to paint brushes and spray cans, a piece of the capital was alight with bright colours and whimsical textures as this year’s hashtag NBD-37 art installations stood beautiful and vibrant amidst the neutral canvas of the Yayasan Shopping Complex. 

A governmental initiative to highlight the sultanate’s growing art scene, the six large art installations which spell out ‘#NBD37’, were proudly on display, further enlivening the 37th National Day celebrations, and charming onlookers of every ilk. 

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Nearly 80 artists of different backgrounds and mediums were involved in the project, each having a hand in uplifting the ambience of the capital during this auspicious occasion.

The hashtag series this year contained six themes namely: ‘We Are Brunei Darussalam!’, ‘Covid-19 Awareness’, ‘ASEAN Flowers’, ‘Brunei Recycled Art’, ‘Graffiti Modern Art’ and ‘Brunei’s Comic and Illustrations’.

We Are Brunei Darussalam!

Designed by 20 prominent and budding artist from the 20:21 Art Exhibition, this installation stays true to its name, featuring bursts of Bruneian colours and patterns, some of which were inspired by folklore. 

“Our process is very intuitive and free-flowing,” said one of the artist, Faizal Hamdan (FH267).

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“We only have one thing in mind, that is to make our collaborative work on the hashtag as harmonious and as dynamic as we can since there are twenty artists with different styles, techniques and backgrounds,” he added. 

For his part, the art teacher features an oriental-style dragon from the Legend of Mt Kinabalu, which contains an easter egg, one you need to look closely to find out because, within the strokes and patterns of the dragon, there’s a human-shaped figure. 

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

According to Faizal, it is Ong Sum Ping, cited to be one of the main subjects of the aforementioned legend. 

Covid-19 Awareness

Among the six installations, it is hard to miss the larger-than-life hand sanitizer designed by graphic designers from JustBruneians. With colours inspired by BruHealth, the installation is understandably a scene-stealer, especially during these pandemic times.  

One of the artists, Nur Izzatul Hanani Mohd Hanifah (Zat) explained that their art piece was to spread awareness on COVID-19 and to create something that would make people think of the positive side even during the unusual times.

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“We were given the freedom to explore ideas in relation to awareness on COVID-19,” she said.

“While the pandemic has negatively affected us (and the world), we thought of showing a different point-of-view as how we (in Brunei) managed to overcome the situation,” she explained.

“We wanted to showcase more light reminders of the things that we still practice that have become our new normal as the message of our awareness – scanning our BruHealth, maintaining hygiene, aware of our own health and just practicing the health protocols,” Nur Izzatul continued. 

ASEAN Flowers and Grafitti Modern Art

Blossoming in bright coloured petals on the side of the road, the art installation was painted by a group of students and teachers from the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB) School.

The installation featured each national flower of the 10 ASEAN member countries, from the five-petal bloom of the sultanate’s own Bunga Simpur to the long stigma of the Malaysian Hibiscus.

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

For Ak Mohd Ilham Pg Hamli (MatchaKitKato), it was his first time showcasing his art piece to the public.

“It feels pretty nice having something I painted with friends out there in the public in (the middle of the) Yayasan Complex for people to take pictures with, and if I were given the opportunity, I would definitely do something like this again I would definitely take part of it,” he added.

Sharing an installation with students of YSHHB School, graffiti artist, Mad Nycer, wanted to create an artwork based on abstract lettering that used colours from the ASEAN flag, which is blue, red and yellow to complement their ASEAN Flower-themed installation.

Brunei Recycled Art

A group of artists, in particular, decided to use the hashtag series to create poignant and beautiful statements on raising environmental issues by using recycled materials and sculpting them into iconic landmarks of Brunei. 

On her part, Zat Rahman (Sachi) wanted to evoke emotions of empathy towards the animals and marine creatures and to express the beauty of Brunei through the choice of colours while also raising awareness on the impact waste.

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

With a dream-like quality, Zat’s art piece was heavily inspired by Van Gogh featuring jellyfishes that were made from styrofoam netting and clouds made out of plastic bags.

“The inspiration was through the material itself, what problems it may cause if not recycled and what can we create out of it to avoid harm and wastage,” another artist, Umi Zaty Bazillah Zakaria said. 

Brunei’s Comic and Illustrations

For digital artist Hj Muhd Hanis Hj Awg Hashim it was his first time using a paint brush, deciding to use his piece to blend childhood icons with his love for comic books.

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

“The ‘Budigirl’ illustration is a female twist to the local SEA games mascot (Awang Budiman) which has become a part of Brunei’s identity – I placed it there so people could easily recognise and relate to it,” he explained. 

“It felt really heartwarming to see my art piece standing there as a mural and being seen by the public. It also felt great looking at families or kids taking a picture with it. My work is usually viewed digitally so having it physically there felt great and inspired me to do more,” he said.

THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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