I was assigned to create a mural and interior design for a particular guest room, no. M01 at the Artotel Thamrin, Jakarta. Singapore Tourism Board and Artotel asked 5 established Indonesian artists to select different themes about Singapore, and I was immediately attracted by the subject of ‘cultural shaper’.

Whenever I visit Singapore, my favourite spot is Kampong Glam. It’s a quaint neighbourhood with cute Peranakan shophouses, art supply stores, and memorable corners. During my many wanderlust moments in Kampong Glam, little did I know that this district was once the village where my Javanese ancestors travelled as merchants and settled there long before the colonial era. At the time, the blue pigment of indigo plants and lapis lazuli were luxury commodities in vogue. The project inspired me to look deeper into this history, and I learnt that the word ‘Glam’ is derived from ‘Gelam’–an ancient Malay word for a certain species of Cajeput plant. The people from Java, Sulawesi, and Sumatra who moved there named this area ‘Gelam’ were seamen and shipbuilders. They used the timber from this plant for building ships, the bark for waterproofing sealants, and the leaves for traditional remedies.

I wish to share this romanticism by creating a storytelling experience inside room M01 at the Artotel. The subject of my mural is the Cajeput plant on a large scale. I paint the plants intertwining like a textile print pattern, with rich cobalt blue paint on an ivory base to depict the traded textiles of the past. In the 19th century, this blue was more expensive than gold. Wassily Kandinsky used this blue in ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ because the colour offers a nuance of spirituality.

To complete my storytelling experience, I am also creating two new illustrated prints for this room. One features a heritage site, Masjid Sultan, and another is my imaginary shophouse with a short bedtime story. I drew Masjid Sultan from a perspective of Bussorah Street, called ‘Kampung Tembaga’–an old area where many Javanese ironsmiths worked. I sincerely hope this blue room will bring fresh inspiration to the travellers staying in room M01 at the Artotel.

  • Format

    Mural Art
    Giclée Print

  • RoleArtist
  • CommencementJanuary 2021