SELECTED PROJECT INTERPRETATION
STORIES ON THE WALL, 2002
ANAK-ANAK KOTA PROGRAMME, ARTS-ED PENANG 2001-2005
This creative arts workshop was first developed in 2001, and saw students introduced to the history of a Chinese clan complex. They study the geomancy and feng shui of a temple within the complex, and the granite carvings on the façade of the temple which depicted mythological tales. As a reflective exercise, they analysed and retold the stories portrayed in the carvings through drama, comic drawings, storytelling, and puppetry.
Interpretation is based on the Archival Records of the project entitled “STORIES ON THE WALL – UNDERSTANDING GRANITE RELIEF CARVINGS”.
Download the Archive Record Inventory (PDF)
HERITAGE HEBOH STREET FESTIVAL FACTS
1.1 Programme Name
Anak-Anak Kota Programme, Arts-ED Penang, 2001-2005
1.2 Project Title
Stories on the Wall – Understanding Granite Relief Carvings, 2002
1.3 Context and Objective
This creative arts workshop was designed at a critical time when the heritage buildings in George Town, Penang were under threat. In 2000, an old British rent control act was lifted in the city, allowing for building rents to be increased. In the hope of obtaining higher profit, many building owners evicted long-time tenants to renovate their properties. Organisations such as the Penang Heritage Trust campaigned to the public and government for greater awareness and protection of the city’s cultural heritage. Arts-ED joined hands in the campaign by developing heritage education programmes for students, which included the study of George Town’s history, architecture, migrant settlers, and their culture and livelihoods.
1.4 Project Description
This 8-day workshop led by artist-facilitators Ang Bee Saik & Seetho Weng Yin was a repeat of a previous creative arts workshop developed in 2001 called ‘Understanding Granite Relief Carvings,’ which introduced young people to the history and function of a Chinese clan complex, and how the Chinese temple within the building reflected the feng shui, geomancy, and yin yang philosophies of Chinese culture. Participants studied the granite carvings on the façade of the temple, which depicted mythological and moral tales. As a reflective exercise they analysed the moral stories portrayed in the carvings and retold the stories through drama, comic drawings, storytelling, and puppetry.
1.5 Source Material
The source material explaining the architecture of a clan temple as well as the decorative granite carvings on its façade were derived from several sources, which included architects who were studying temple restoration, research by scholars on Chinese carvings, and also a minor publication by the clan association members who had compiled the 24 mythological stories associated with the temple carvings. A thesis titled Stone Carvings of Khoo Kongsi written by Ch’ng Sao Inn for topical study towards Bachelors of Arts Degree in Housing Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang was also used as a reference for the project.
Supporting Archival Materials:
1.6 Producing Organisation
1.7 Project Initiators
1.8 Project Instructor
Artist Facilitator: Ang Bee Saik & Seetho Weng Yin
Coordinator: Ho Sheau Fung
|SMK Convent Green Lane||13-14||2|
|SMK St Xavier||16||3|
|TOTAL NO. OF PARTICIPANTS||8|
1.10 Events and Activities
|27th May – 3rd June 2002 (8 days)||Khoo Kongsi||George Town|
|1-15 July 2002||Syed Alatas Mansion||George Town|
1.11 Promotional Material/Catalogue/Programme
1.12 Final Script/Final Curriculum
Participants devised a script based on the story ‘Carps for Wicked Stepmother,’ which is one of the filial piety stories carved on the temple wall. The script was used for a shadow puppet performance which was performed at a final public exhibition.
Supporting Archival Material
1.13 Multimedia Documentation
1.14 Previews and Reviews
Soft copy of the photos are available in the hard disk of AEAM repository.
1.17 Final report/Evaluation
VIDEO/SLIDESHOW OF FINAL OUTPUT
A video documenting the process of the childrens’ research, art-making process, and final creative output at the exhibition in the Syed Alatas building, Penang.
Title: Story on the Wall (2003)
Produced by: Arts-ED Heritage Education Program, Penang, Malaysia
ART MAKING PROCESS
Stories on the Wall – Understanding Granite Carvings
This programme was one of the creative arts workshops conducted by Arts-ED in 2001 and 2002. Around 15 participants, aged from 12 to 17 years, were recruited from various schools.
Participants then examined granite panels carved with scenes from traditional moral stories. Each carved panel depicted only one scene from a story. Participants were provided with a written version of 5 moral stories and were asked to match the scenes from the carved panels with the correct story.
Scenes from the moral stories and legends carved in relief on granite
A professional guide explained the historical and cultural context of the temple to participants and explained why the 5 traditional stories were themed on the moral value of filial piety; first generation migrant Chinese using the temple on a regular basis were constantly reminded of their filial duties when they saw the panels. This was because they were already familiar with the stories, and the panels acted as a catalyst to remind them of their filial duties. Participants then discussed the stories and their significance in contemporary society.
Participants were next asked to use their imagination to reconstruct all the scenes from any one story using either dramatic or comic storyboard. They were required to use the written narrative and the carved panels as a guide.
Comic illustrations created by participants
iv. Synthesis and Outreach
Participants brainstormed how to assemble and unify the various scenarios they had developed and creative ways in which they could communicate the stories to a community audience, emphasising particularly the morals contained within the stories. Several creative forms were selected and executed by different groups of participants:
● Storytelling using a scroll box – Scenes from the moral story were illustrated on a scroll and the story was told orally as the scroll was rotated.
● Puppetry – Participants carved two dimensional puppet characters and used shadow puppetry as a technique to tell the story.
● Calendar – Scenes from the story were used to illustrate each month of the calendar.
● Lampshade – Each scene was illustrated using ink on rice paper and the various ink painted scenes were assembled to create a lampshade which depicted a different scene on each panel.
Showcase performance for the community by participants using scroll-box storytelling and shadow puppetry
By interacting with traditional petty traders in their community to produce a signboard for small businesses, students learned about the cultural, aesthetic, technical, and functional aspects of this craft.
The programme was designed with incentives, interactive activities, and imaginary possibilities to stimulate young people’s curiosity and interest in the traditional cultural artefact (granite carving). Multi-modal mediums for synthesis, e.g. craft, drawing, puppetry, and storytelling, allowed those with different capacities and intelligences to comprehend meaning in their own way.
Formal art education in schools and institutions tend to emphasise ‘technique’, often reproducing art forms dissociated from life. Widening the scope of arts education into the environment and community (beyond the limits of the classroom), helped young participant in this programme come closer to artistic forms associated with local life, and comprehend the meaning and function of traditional craft in relation to the local cultural context.
In an indirect manner, the programme highlighted cultural history, environment, language, and the arts related to the Chinese settlers. A similar programme extended to cover temples or shrines of other cultural groups could advance education for cultural understanding.
Summary of Programme Findings – Case Study 2
The examination of a traditional art/craft within its historical context provides a path of discovery to the past, but the use of child-friendly, modern creative arts can help the new generation to comprehend artistic concepts and values from the past and carry them into the future.
Case Study 2 adapted from: Pillai, J. (2005). Stories on the Wall – Understanding Granite Carving. International Arts Education Symposium – Creative Partnerships: Theory and Practice in the Field of Arts Education (pp. 161-168). Seoul: Korea Arts and Culture Education Service.
REFLECTIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS
Ang Bee Saik
Project: Stories on the Wall, 2002