Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Little Penang Street Market

The Little Penang Street Market will bring together 60 vendors selling made-in-Malaysia handicrafts, antiques & collectibles, and heritage food. At the same time, 12 celebrities and musicians such as Joanne Kam Poh Poh, Syafinaz Selamat, Norleena Salim, Rozz and the Rozzells are performing for Little Penang in support of Penang’s arts, crafts and creative diversity. The event offers free live music to the public to attract the crowds. The organisers urge the public to ‘Think Global, Buy Local’ and flock to the Sunday market to shop at Little Penang. Every cent spent here will encourage local crafts people to continue and improve what they are doing, as the organisers do not take any of the proceeds. Little Penang will showcase both traditional trades and contemporary crafts. The organisers are pursuing a long-term project to support traditional trades by helping them to ‘contemporize’. This may mean modifying some aspects of the trade, improving the packaging, finding a distributor or using the internet to reach a wider market. Social and charity groups such as Asian Community Service, St. Nicholas, Cheshire Home, Charis Hospice, Penang Prison, Eden Handicapped Centre and Asrama Putri are also taking part to sell their handicrafts. Little Penang also has a project to matchmake designers with charities to help the latter upgrade their handicrafts design and make them more marketable. A major thrust of Little Penang is to showcase designer crafts by Penang-based producers who have developed an international following. For example, glass artist Fuan Wong produces fused glass objects which are promoted by international galleries, including Asia Society in New York. Artist Rebecca Ducket-Wilkinson has evolved a distinctive tropical imagery in her paintings, clothes, crafts and book. Conservation expert Tan Yeow Wooi creates unique miniature Zen landscapes and Chinese-style lamp boxes. Jonathan Yun makes exquisite jewellery inspired by natural and coral forms. Architects and potters Thim and Jane of Claycraft are known for their earthy ceramics and have won awards for their lifestyle products. These designers are among those showing the way for Penang crafts in a global market. In support of the Penang crafts community, these leading designers have also volunteered to be advisors in Penang’s community crafts and traditional trade projects. The Little Penang Street Market will be held on the last Sunday of every month at Upper Penang Road, starting 30 July, when the launch will take place at 11am. The market will be open from 10am to 8pm. The initiative is spearheaded by the Institute for Cultural Enterprise and Lestari Heritage Network, and supported by Tourism Penang, The Garage and the Upper Penang Road Promotional Society. Organised as a community project, Little Penang is endorsed by Tourism Penang and has attracted sponsorship from many local business and individual well-wishers. The organisers are now seeking funding for the future monthly markets and also financial support for the longer-term community crafts and traditional trade projects. Joanne Kam Po Po, diva comedian extraordinaire, holds court in Boom Boom Room Caberet, and acts in Instant CafĂ© and KL theatre productions. She is a familiar face in television sitcoms such as Kopi Tiam, Spanar Jaya, and ‘Ah Girl’ and has co-hosted Lonely Planet’s ‘Six Degrees’. Her acid tongue humour and outrageous outfits has made her Malaysia’s leading female stand-up comic. Norleena Salim, singer, actor, comedian and show host, has won awards for Best Comedy Actress in Asian Television Awards for her roles in Under One Roof, and the Odd Squad on Singapore television. She is now based in Australia, where she continues to sing in live concerts and presents three daily programmes on music radio. Syafinaz Selamat, KL celebrity and judge in Malaysian television’s ‘One in A Million’, is vocal master and soloist with the National Choir of Malaysia, and music lecturer at UiTM and the National Arts Academy. After winning the World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles in 1999, she made two albums with EMI, ‘Ingin Bersamamu’ 1999 and ‘Syyh Syafinaz’, 2001. The Rozells is a duo formed by James Rozells and Kathleen Rodrigues, who represent Penang’s Eurasian music heritage. For years, they ran The Rozells Country & Western and Oldies Pub, a favourite watering hole among both Penangites and tourists. Today, they are the foremost promoters of the Penang’s great composers such as Tan Sri-P. Ramlee, Jimmy Boyle and Ahmad Merican, the fathers of modern Malaysian music. Simon and Joni are two very talented young musicians. They are studying in Penang, and represent a growing pool of gifted and determined young performers. Simon will sing and play the acoustic guitar unplugged; Joni will sing. Christopher Estrop is the grandson of Larry Rodrigues and the son of Kathleen Rodrigues, so is very much part of the long musical heritage of Penang. He is a fine guitarist but today he is demonstrating his versatility by playing the keyboard and singing. Tanjung Jammers are a threesome who play for fun. Guitarist Johan is a retired USM Professor, bassist Rohan well-known in Penang circles and James is Scottish but has been in Penang for longer than he can remember. As well as enjoying their music, they also inject it with a little bit of social comment. Mary Carlos was already singing in public some thirty years ago, but took time out to raise her family and become Mrs Malaysia one year not so long ago. She has recently returned to sing on the club and hotel circuit. She will be accompanied by Michael Kay, a graduate from Berkeley, an extremely proficient musician in his own right and now working hard with others to secure the future of music in Penang. The Young Jazz Quartet are the youngest of our musicians today. They range in age from 11 to 14, so they really do represent the younger generation. Despite their age, they are already veteran public performers, having performed for example at the last Penang International Jazz Festival. (Don’t forget to go this year). Antonio and the Mixx is lead by the former lead singer of Sweet September. Rozz sings jazz with the The Jazz Trio at the Bagan in Penang. Devoted to the study of music and theatre, he was trained in the US by renowned vocal coaches and has acted in off-Broadway productions in New York.
‘Support Penang Arts, Crafts & Music… be a part of Little Penang’.
Website: email: littlepenang at

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