The Art of Nature Preservation

Green Dream by Joelle Saint-Arnoult.

Mother Earth by Gabriela Garza-Lainez.

Global Warming by Lucia Quiros.

They are artists, and they love nature. Last April, this group of passionate people held a thematic art exhibition, Art within Theatre: Mother Nature, A Celebration showcasing works aimed at raising public awareness about endangered wildlife and plants.

Art within Nature presented works by local and foreign talents – namely Ivan Gabriel, Gabriela Garza-Lainez, Vijay Nathan, Lucia Quiros, Eric Yeoh and Joelle Saint-Arnoult. They came together to form the Penang Players Music and Drama Society, alongside guest artist, Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson.

“The uniqueness of the art exhibition is further reflected in the diversity of the members of the Penang Players Music and Drama Society, which consists of people not only of different races and countries, but also of different occupational backgrounds – ranging from actors to designers,” says Ivan Gabriel, the main organiser of the event.

The opening ceremony, which took place at the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac), was held in conjunction with Penang Eco-Weekend – the latest Penang state government initiative to support eco-friendly practices – as well as the comedy musical One Minute to Midnight, directed by Fa Abdul and written by Nancy Jenster.

Ivan Gabriel (middle) introducing the works of art on display to visitors.

Gabriel and Zairil Khir Johari, who officiated the exhibition.

Preview performance of One Minute to Midnight.

These, including an a cappella performance, were tailored for the theme of preserving nature. Officiating the exhibition was Zairil Khir Johari, state exco for Public Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation, who hailed the event as “a major success as an art exhibition which showcases masterpieces that reflect the pressing issue of wildlife protection.”

All the artwork was completed using different artistic mediums and styles. For instance, one of the award-winning pieces produced by Gabriel depicts an African rhinoceros, drawn using charcoal pencils; with strong emphasis placed on the rhino’s horn, ornamented with gold foil.

“My main goal is to draw public attention through art showcases to the widespread illegal poaching of rhinos, which is on the rise. Art has the ability to reach a wider audience more effectively – it is much easier to understand,” says Gabriel, who also works with various inks on paper and sculptures with different mixtures of clay.

“I always push myself to explore different techniques not only to further sharpen my artistic skills, but also to experiment with new techniques to gain a more expansive visual vocabulary,” says Gabriel. He hopes that his work will inspire others to protect wildlife and plants.

The energy and passion of the other artists were similarly apparent at the opening of the exhibition – each personally introduced visitors to their artwork. If such initiatives continue to gain traction in the coming years, perhaps the younger generation will be spurred to safeguard the environment. The future, after all, is their home.

Joelle Saint-Arnoult.

(Left to right) Artists Vijay Nathan, Eric Yeoh, Gabriela Garza-Lainez, Ivan Gabriel, Lucia Quiros and Joelle Saint-Arnoult.

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