Project Exhibition Borneo Cultures Museum 3rd – 7th December 2023
The "Serumpun: crafts across borders” exhibition, part of the C&VM programme, opens on Saturday 3rd December at the Borneo Cultures Museum. In collaboration between the BorneoLaboratory and The Glasgow School of Art, this year-long programme and research explores sustainability challenges and craft activism in communities across Borneo and has been funded by the British Council InternationalCollaboration Grants.
Meet the Exhibitors
Performer, Instrument Maker | Miri/ Long Moh, Sarawak
Salomon Gau is a musician and craft artisan, originally from Long Ikang, Baram, and now based in Miri, Sarawak. Deeply passionate about preserving his cultural heritage, Salomon has dedicated close to 20 years to researching, understanding and honing his craft. From undertaking apprenticeships with elders, to the sourcing and studying of materials – as a teacher, Salomon is also constantly learning. His talent and art form all started from performing the mighty warrior dance, to playing and learning the making of the Sape, to singing Kenyah folk songs, to now playing and making the Jatung Utang (a traditional wooden xylophone). Salomon is a celebrated traditional Kenyah Dancer and has performed with the renowned Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra (2018). He was also part of the creative team and cast for Kelunan (2019), a musical-theatre production about the history of the Kayan and Kenyah people, produced by The Tuyang Initiative. Currently, Salomon is focusing his work on becoming a cultural guardian for the Kenyah people.
C&VM Project: Jatung Utang Material Exploration
Instead of using the conventional timber (Apo’and Baa’tilang), Salomon Gau explores accessible material around the city of Miri to enable the making of the Jatung Utang (the wooden xylophone). The timber best used for the wooden xylophone is mostly found in the interior or hilly land like in the upper Baram. Conventionally, harvest of the timber needs to follow certain moon phase to enable the timber to be harvested on a reduced glucose level. In this project, Salomon Gau explored 8 types of timber to make the Jatung Utang as replacement materials.
Crafts Practitioner | Keningau, Sabah
Emily Jeneble is a Salingkawang bamboo weaver and up grew up in the small village of Kampung Bau Lunguyan, Sabah. Determined to continue the legacy of both her parents and grandmother, Emily’s work focuses on opening up opportunities for anyone, regardless of age and gender, to learn this weaving practice and create products from it. Since she was a young girl, Emily’s mother would carry her on her back to collect raw materials for weaving. Reflecting on this childhood memory, Emily described the significance of this craft in her family:
“My grandmother is a traditional crafts person, who makes all kinds of products to help our community. These items are practical necessities such as the sirung, a traditional cap among Dusun tribespeople, which helps people working in the rice fields to shield from the sun.”
C&VM Project: Book entitled Sejarah Kraf Anyaman Buluh Emily Jeneble (Emily Jeneble’s History of Plaited Bamboo)
This book covers 3 main aspects of Emily’s life as a craft maker. The first covers the stories of her grandmother and parents who are bamboo craft makers from which Emily learnt her skills. The second covers all the different bag designs which helped to build her brand. Several of Emily’s designs have won major awards locally and internationally including one from the World Craft Council. And finally, the third segment covers how Emily expanded her craft making business to her community including the growth of many other craft communities through their involvement with her.
JENNIFER. P LINGGI
Crafts Activist and Researcher | Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Jennifer graduated as an architect from Oxford Brookes University, UK. After working in London and Brunei she returned home to Sabah, Malaysia in 2004 to pursue her first love - art. As an artist, she was involved in many group exhibitions locally and internationally. In her role as the Director of the Sabah Art Gallery for 12 years, she is no stranger to the art scene and has worked extensively with the creative communities. Having produced several publications on heritage skills, Jennifer continues to explore and research on culture through architecture, design and art. Her primary motivation is a desire to increase appreciation of these craft skills and to preserve the knowledge for future generations by producing reference material of Borneo’s traditional culture.
C&VM Project: Conserving Murut and Dusun motifs and patterns through visual documentation
The relationship of people and culture is strengthened by learning and the handing down of knowledge and skills from one generation to another. Traditionally, indigenous knowledge was passed down verbally or learnt by observation. Some cultural documentation has taken place, but usually for administrative records or for academic research. For knowledge to be transferred effectively, it must be fully comprehensible through direct experience. Many of the older craft communities are not literate and written words are not the preferred method of sharing. This explains her approach to visually documenting aspects of local culture. Her focus for the C&VM project is conserving the Murut and Dusun motifs and patterns used in bamboo craft making through digital documentation and incorporation of the motifs into new products made from modern materials.
Crafts Practitioner | Kuching/Betong, Sarawak, Malaysia Rosemarie Wong (Lead Exhibitor), Ar. Ivy Jong & Johnson Tan (Design Collaborators - Bengkel TanJong)
Rosemarie is a designer and entrepreneur based in Sarawak. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in printed textiles for Fashion (Central St. Martins, London) and Diploma in Interior Design (Chelsea College of Art and Design), Rosemarie has a lifelong passion for indigenous hand crafts and heritage buildings. As the owner and creative designer of The Ranee Boutique Suites, The Marian Boutique Lodging House, The Granary and Ranee Artisan Gallery, Rosemarie has a mission: to create, connect and collaborate with local artisans to raise awareness and inspire change in the preservation of crafts and heritage. Ar. Ivy Jong is the founding director of Atelier Timur Sdn. Bhd. The first elected female chairperson of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia Sarawak Chapter. Johnson Tan is an architect who has recently returned to Sarawak after years of working in Australia and China. Currently attached to Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, he teaches architecture.Together, they set up Bengkel TanJong to explore design and craft beyond architecture.
C&VM Project: Exploration and innovation of plant matter as a viable craft material
The 3-Bark table-lamp is a collaborative effort between a trio of urbanite designers and the rural crafts women of Betong, Sarawak. The objective, to create a contemporary lamp design with the traditional bark cloth. The lamp spreads a warm, intimate glow, and the open weave allows this light to filter through and create interesting patterned shadows and luminance. The bark cloth has always been an understated material, and through this exercise Rosemary aims to showcase its beauty, potentials and viability as a craft material, and hopefully revive an interest in its use.
SEPATOKIMIN INITIATIVE a.
Craft Activist | Singkawang/Sambas, Kalimantan, Indonesia Lead Exhibitors: Sepatokimin Initiative Collaborators: Rohani, Adi (Singkawang Songket Weaver), Nadzifah Sub’in Dedare (Sambas Songket Weaver), Rahmat (Sambas Suri Maker), Andri (Local Craft Practitioner)
Sepatokimin is a community-driven initiative that seeks to empower communities across Indonesia through creative economic development by supporting human, social, intellectual and financial capacity-building. This creative documentation follows the life story of a husband and a wife that had a major role in the development of Songket in Singkawang: Nurhayadi and Rohani. Born and raised in Sambas, West Kalimantan, Nurhayadi learned to weave and make weaving tools from an early age. He later moved to Singkawang to work for a Songket weaving business owner. When the factory was closed in 2000, Nurhayadi’s collection of weaving pattern technical drawings and vast knowledge of tool-making played a vitial role in preserving this craft practice in Singkawang.
C&VM Project: Songket Singkawang - a fragment of Songket Melayu history in Kalimantan
The pursuit of Songket Singkawang history leads us to Sambas, where we listened to stories of Songket Melayu that tied to the history of three Islamic kingdoms in the north of Borneo island: Kesultanan Brunei, Kesultanan Sarawak, and Kesultanan Sambas. As a cultural textile that is shared among many cultural groups across islands and nations, the dynamic of Songket has evolved through time and regions. The technique, tools, and stories around Songket Singkawang were documented and presented through an interactive website page. This project is also the first fragment of “Antologi Temurun”, an initiative documenting traditional material culture of Indonesia through creative storytelling and various media.
SEPATOKIMIN INITIATIVE b.
Craft Activist | Jagoi, Kalimantan, Indonesia Jagoi Credits to: Lead Exhibitors: Sepatokimin Initiative and Manai Jagoi Collaborators: Gamia Dewanggamanik, Sujianto (Kepala Desa Sekida), Di’i and Yohana Anik (Jagoi craft practitioners).
Discovering Rattans Material in Jagoi Sekida is a documentary project to archive vernacular cultural assets - rattan used by the Bidayuh Jagoi community in Sekida Village, Jagoi Babang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Sepatokimin Initiative tried to identify this potential that has been commonly used for many generations for their daily household. Being the largest rattan-weaved producer, almost 80% of the Sekida village members can do this artistry; however, the scarcity of this resource has been a prominent issue for the past years caused by the increase spread of palm oil plantations.
C&VM Project: Material Archives - Rattan Material
Rattan has more than 600 known species worldwide, yet each region has its local name for each type, and to date, there has yet to be any effort to distinguish each kind scientifically in Jagoi Sekida. During their research, the group collected specimens and worked with the botanical research centre in Indonesia to discover each scientific name, which led to finding alternative methods to breed these species. The group also conducted creative documentation from each type of rattan and the end products made from each species.
Craft Activist | Parangkaraya, Kalimantan, Indonesia Lead Exhibitor: Handep, Angela Mayrina
Handep is a leading social enterprise and sustainable brand in Indonesia that works with indigenous artisans and smallholders to create an alternative sustainable village economy that aligns with ancestral wisdom and local resources. The name Handep is borrowed from the Dayak Ngaju dialect, which as a whole means “the spirit of working together and helping each other as a family or community.” Handep's work is centred around this philosophy:
“We are reconnecting the people closest to us, to not only the lands and forest around them but to their long-lived tradition and values, in respect of nature and to preserve the world they live in, as it should be.”
C&VM Project: Desa Maha Dare
In their project, Handep has developed an innovative approach to engage current and future generations of Dayak weavers through organizing an annual weaving competition since 2020: the ‘Ratu & Putri Dare (Queen & Princess of Weaving) Competition.’ In particular, the competition aims to foreground and renew interest in raising awareness of rattan weaving preservation and empowering women weavers in Central Kalimantan. This year, under the C&VM project, Angela Mayrina and Handep team are reinventing their approach. Instead of selecting individual winners, they choose one winning village as Desa Maha Dare (The Great Weaver Village) to revive the collective spirit among the weavers by creating a high-value sculptural piece that speaks of this renewed spirit. While inspiring innovation, the competition also encourages multigenerational collaboration and facilitates knowledge transfer from the older to the younger generation of weavers.
Crafts Practitioner | Keningau, Sabah Credits to: Rasmah Rumambai (Lead Exhibitor) and Elmie Georgey (daughter and assistant)
Rasmah is an accomplished bead artisan, a skill she learnt since she was young girl from her mother. Her unique beads are renowned for their intricate patterns (such as takin, tinantis and patod baru) that combine traditional motifs with contemporary details. Through C&VM, she began teaching her skill to others apart from her daughters to ensure the continuation of the knowledge.
C&VM Project: Transferring of the skill of beadcraft of the Murut Boakan
Organising the bead workshop was a first for Rasmah as well as the Murut Boakan community in her kampung (village). She garnered the support of the Murut Boakan Association as well as the Village Chief. After the success and impact of her workshop, Rasmah has since been offered a plot of land on the community grounds of Kampung Delayan Lama, Sook, to set up a galley to promote and delivery beadwork education and related crafts for the community.
Crafts Community | Singkawang, Kalimantan
Sanggar Sarantangan are a creative community from Habang, Sagatani Village in Singkawang, West Kalimantan. Two generations ago, the Sagatani village was surrounded by lush rainforest and the Sarantangan Lake. However, the impact of gold mining activities cleared the forest, excavated the land and polluted the river. Against this backdrop, Sanggar Sarantangan was established in response to the challenges faced by the younger generation in their village. With limited economic opportunities, it's common for young people to leave school early and, in cases, engage in illegal mining activities. Sanggar Sarantangan centres on creative capacity-building in harmony with tradition and the nature inherited for their ancestors:
“We want to bring fellow young people in our village to learn and reconnect with our tradition and culture.”
C&VM Project: Learning Together, Making Together - exploration of jelai beads
Through their project, Sanggar Sarantangan worked with young people in the village to explore the natural materials around them that can be used to make various products, one of which is jelai plants. Through this C&VM project, the young people were supported to conducted their own workshops to learn together and better understand the cultural context of jelai; exploring the potential of the material to become creative products and alternative economic sources.
MANAI JAGOI BIDAI
Crafts Community | Jagoi, Kalimantan Credits to: Roslinda, Koperasi Hasta Karya, Deddi, Rino and Roy
Whilst rattan-based craft in Jagoi Babang (in particular bidai) remains a promising commodity with a consistent demand from the Malaysian market; conversely across Indonesia it remains fairly unknown.
C&VM Project: Bidai with Local Motifs of Jagoi
In this project, bidai Master Weaver Ibu Roslinda facilitated a bidai competition, with the aim to explore craft identity through reviving traditional patterns and developing new patterns inspired by everyday life, Dayak Bidayuh narratives and Jagoi natural landscape. As the domestic market has begun to grow, it is more important than ever now to revitalise bidai identity that deeply represents the place.
MANAI JAGOI RATTAN
Crafts Community | Jagoi, Kalimantan Credits to: Jembelia Ania, Fitri Nurjana, Roslinda, Di’i, Lusia Si’an, Paula Livia, Rusmiati Apu, Sujianto, Geovani Jebat
Rattan weaving practice in the Sekida Village, particularly Dusun Kindau, of Jagoi Babang has survived many generations where its knowledge and skill continue to regenerate. Almost every family member, old and young, can weave. Rattan is an important vernacular material for the local communities and is deeply attached to their everyday life. However, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain the material because much of the land and forest has been cleared for oil palm plantation.
C&VM Project: Woven Products with Alternative Fibres
With the growing concern of the scarcity of the raw material, the Manai Jagoi team brought together twenty rattan weavers from Kindau village to explore locally accessible materials to complement their staple material (rattan). The project showcases the artisans’ ability to utilise various types of rattan and other natural materials.
THE TUYANG INITIATIVE
Craft Activist | Miri, Sarawak Credits to: Juvita Tatan Wan (Lead Exhibitor), Adrian Jo Milang (Community Manager) Cultural Practitioner: Suzy Imbah, Iban - Kapit; Rosiah Rinai, Lun Bawang - Long Tuma; Jonita Ayat, Penan - Long Nen
Established in 2017, The Tuyang Initiative is a social enterprise based in Miri, Sarawak that is committed to ensuring continued cultural awareness of Borneo’s indigenous people and cultural heritage. Having left their village of Long San, Baram to pursue their individual careers; founders John Wan Usang and Juvita Tatan Wan experienced a deep physical and cultural disconnect. Inspired to return to their roots, this father and daughter duo established and grew the initiative, which takes its name “Tuyang” from their Kenyah language, meaning “friend”. Juvita has 15 years of regional and international experience in diverse roles such as business development, product marketing and audio-visual production, and currently leads the Tuyang Initiative team. Their core ambition is to ensure Malaysia’s indigenous cultural guardians gain access to opportunities that support meaningful and sustainable livelihoods and they are able to thrive and lead efforts for cultural continuity. The arts and creative management company also provides indigenous cultural consultation, curates exhibitions, demonstrations and showcases.
C&VM Project: Slow Craft
Inspired by the intent of moving traditional cultural practitioners away from the growing push towards mass production methods, The Tuyang Initiative worked with a group of craft practitioners in different areas of craft and geography, to explore the following key themes:
a) Shift mindsets away from mass production to artisanal craftsmanship
b) Reconnect with their own cultural expressions and traditions, continue their slow craft practices and document their knowledge
c) Exploring alternative value chain creation to benefit the wider community and their craft
The Serumpun exhibition and events programme opens on 3rd December. UK audiences can follow the action via GSA’s Instagram @glasgowschoolart @gsofa and the Borneo Lab’s Instagram: @BorneoLaboratory @Thinkandtink.kch
About the British Council: C&VMis funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants, whichare designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate oninternational arts projects. The British Council is the UK’s internationalorganisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. For moreinformation, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org