Category Archives: EZ 36

PICTURES to Pills

Japanese multinational photography and imaging company Fujifilm develops drug to fight Ebola

World-renowned Japanese photography and imaging company Fujifilm, made headlines when they announced their latest discovery in August this year. Many would have expected it to be the unveiling of their latest high-tech camera or photography equipment but on the contrary, the discovery was a new drug, Favipiravir, to aid in combating the deadly Ebola virus.

Toyama Chemicals, a subsidiary company of Fujifilm, is credited with making this discovery. Takao Aoki, a Fujifilm representative stated that since Ebola and influenza viruses are similar, theoretically the same effects could be expected on Ebola. The Japanese government has approved the drug to be used against Ebola but the efficacy of the drug is yet to be tested on either monkeys or humans. Favipiravir is currently in clinical test in United States with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and discussion on its usage on Ebola patients is still on going.

One might wonder on the reasons for Fujifilm to venture into a totally different field but the flexibility of the highly reputable Japanese company is set to benefit them in a number of ways. It is only a matter of time before Fujifilm starts to milk profits from its diversification. Since the announcement, their shares went up to 8.83% and with the majority of the Japanese population aged 50 and above, the pharmaceutical sector is expected to see continued growth.

Instead of competing within one’s market, Fujifilm took the more challenging route of developing new products and businesses. Mr Shigetaka Komori, CEO of Fujifilm commented on their expansion, saying, “We have more pockets and drawers in our company”. Fujifilm’s diversified business now carries a range of products from different markets such as anti aging cream, medicine, dietary supplies, cosmetics, radiography film and equipment as well as mammography appliances.

Many other multinationals have also started to be proactive by expanding into different markets. Sony, which is often associated with electronic goods have begun to cater to the demands of medical science with their new cell analysis device used in cancer and stem cell research. Similarly, Panasonic, one of the largest Japanese electronic producers, has also tried its hand at medical machinery with its brainchild, a robot called HOSPI. That transports medicine from one place to another within the hospital. Taking this a step further, Japanese multinational and engineering company, Toshiba opened their own hospital in central Tokyo equipped with its own brand of machinery and equipments.

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SOLD OUT LITTLE PRINCESS A BIG HIT AT ‘FOUL’ EXHIBITION

It was another record-breaking evening at PINKGUY as the limited 8 pieces ‘Little Princess’ sculpture by Ch’ng Huck Theng, sold out during the opening night. 

Every parent knows the bittersweet emotion that is part and parcel of raising children and it is no different with artist Ch’ng Huck Theng whose Little Princess sculpture, a personal tribute to his own daughter, struck a sentimental chord with guests and was sold out within hours at the opening soiree.

The successful opening was officiated by Dato’ Mahadzir Lokman the Chairman of the National Visual Arts Development Board and attended by a select guest list of art collectors, experts and friends.

The bronze figure depicting a child-woman standing erect with an almost regal demeanor marks the artist’s own journey of fatherhood from the birth of his little princess to watching her grow up into a confident and independent young lady. No doubt it is a journey that many of the attending guests could relate with, making them eager to own a work of art that best epitomizes this personal emotion.

The event which took place at PINKGUY Gallery on Saturday, 23rd August 2014 was the first solo bronze exhibition by Ch’ng Huck Theng. Presenting 15 bronze works which were displayed over the water feature which graces the lobby of Marc Residences, “FOUL” introduced a new perspective to the concept of identity in which the question of race, religion, nationality and ethnicity is deliberately left out.

Those attending the event were also privileged to witness the unveiling of Ch’ng’s latest work ‘Princess Liberty’ in which the bronze figure of a woman riding a horse raises the question of whether there is freedom in anonymity. Other pieces that were bought that evening include ‘Anak Malaysia’ a set of three figures representing the three main races of Malaysia, and ‘Checkmate’, the artist’s interpretation of a chess board.

Tracing the legacy of batik sarong

Batik is one of the most popular of Malaysian crafts, yet so much can still be discovered about its history and development. Adline A. Ghani shares about a unique research project spearheaded by none other than Raja Datin Paduka Fuziah Raja Tun Uda, fondly known as Mak Engku, a woman who has dedicated her life to the development and promotion of Malaysian arts and crafts. 

Images Courtesy of the Batik Terengganu research team

Throughout her illustrious career, which began in the 1960s, Raja Fuziah has held several esteemed titles, including the first Director General of the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (MHDC), President of the World Craft Council (WCC) Asia Pacific Region (which she currently serves as a board member) and Deputy Director General of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture in Istanbul (IRCICA).

Though she must have been busy raising a family, while breaking new ground and blazing trails for women in the industry, Raja Fuziah also took the time to organise and curate many exhibitions, publish numerous essays and lend her support and expertise to the local and international arts and crafts community. It came as no surprise, therefore, that she was chosen to receive the prestigious National Art Award 2008 for the Promotion of the Arts (Individual Category) by the Malaysian government.

Having published her book Batik Malaysia Design and Innovation 1960s – 1990s two years ago, Raja Fuziah is not quite ready to rest on her laurels. Instead, she has set out to delve further into Malaysian batik with her latest endeavour, Batik Sarong Terengganu – A Research Project.

The Project

The Batik Sarong Terengganu research project aims to compile and provide a comprehensive database on the batik sarong of Terengganu. It will chart the history and origins of batik sarong, how it was made and traded, as well as who were involved in developing the industry, how they were involved and what is happening to the batik sarong industry today.

The culmination of this project will be marked by the publication of a book entitled Batik Sarong Malaysia: Heritage of Today for Tomorrow, authored by Raja Fuziah, which is meant to serve as a reference for future generations of art researchers and enthusiasts.

Due to the scale of the project, Raja Fuziah is assisted by Erna Dyanty Mad Daluis, who has worked in the art industry for more than a decade. Erna, who also holds a Master’s In Art Management, serves the project as a coordinator and assistant researcher. In addition, she has helped the project tap into the power of social media, using platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube to spread the word and raise the funds necessary for them to embark on research and documentation, as well as publish their findings.

The full cost required for the project is RM100,00.00, which will also be utilised to develop a batik archive, support their innovation and creative platform programme, as well as organise an exhibition and educational programmes.

The aim, as always, is to bring attention to the urgency of preserving Malaysian batik sarong. The exhibition and hands-on workshops, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, are planned for December 2014. With enough funds, it would be possible for the team to transfer the knowledge into a digital format and have it available online for everyone around the world.

The Innovation and Creative Platform

With the knowledge and insight gained through this research project, Raja Fuziah envisions the establishment of the Innovative and Creative Platform, which seeks to merge the skills of traditional batik craftsmen and young Malaysian designers.  This merger is hoped to promote the transfer and sharing of knowledge between these two skills sets, in an effort to preserve our cultural heritage and the Easy Coast’s cottage industry.

The product of this merger will be materialised in limited-edition batik sarongs, which will also be turned into items like pouches and bags. As such, the Batik Sarong Terengganu Research Project is collaborating with local creative brand timitimitonga, also known as TiMi. Created by young Malaysian talent, Fariza Azlina Isahak, TiMi produces beautifully-handcrafted batik totes made out of limited-edition batik prints.

As Raja Fuziah and Erna embark on their batik adventure, they urge fellow Malaysians, cultural heritage advocates and anyone who has a love for art to join them in preserving something now for our future. As Erna eloquently states, “Everyone can be part of an innovative and creative project that serves to preserve a national cultural heritage.”

TIES THAT BIND THROUGH ART

More than 250 art lovers and collectors attended the official opening of the second edition of “ARTS KL – Melbourne”. The event which was officiated by Malaysian-born Melbourne City Councillor Ken Ong and MATRADE Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Wong Lai Sum took place at the newly opened gallery, SpACE @ Collins, 278 Collins Street on 6th October.

In an effort to widen the base of exports, MATRADE is now also focusing on the promotion of soft exports, which includes design and arts as a means of boosting trade between the two countries.

During her opening speech, Wong said it was heartening to witness a thriving art scene in Malaysia and it was encouraging to see Malaysian art appreciated overseas. “The exposure of our art last year has resulted in widespread awareness, generating greater demand for works by contemporary artists from Malaysia,” she said. “Many of our artists have been invited to take part in international art exhibitions and art auctions.”

Joe Perri, President of the Australia Malaysia Business Council Victoria also noted that art and culture were equally important contributors to economic wellbeing. “It is definitely an export opportunity and a contributor to Malaysian GDP and overseas bilateral trade success.”

Featuring works by the late Ho Khay Beng and Khaw Sia, Fendy Zakri, Haffendi Anuar, Hasanul Isyraf Idris, Ismail Awi, Khairul Arshad, Lim Anuar, Raja Norzlipah Raja Ahmad, Rozana Mohamed, Yeoh Choo Kuan, Zaim Durulaman, photographer Layzhoz Yeap and 11-year-old Delwin Cheah the artworks were carefully selected based on market suitability. As part of MATRADE’s “business with a heart” initiative, the exhibition also carried the works of the handicap which received good response.

Asian contemporary artist Ch’ng Huck Theng who resumed his curatorial duties for the second year running pointed out the importance of the public being able to relate to the art by understanding its origins rather than merely admiring techniques and finished pieces.