Malacca captivates artists


MALACCA not only has the charm to lure tourists to its historical sites, but also has mesmerised non-Malaccan artists to live here and call the town their home.

Over the years, it has captured more than a dozen artists, local and from abroad, to live and work here, creating their paintings, wood carvings, clay vases and various other forms of artwork.

At home: Tham uses water colour to paint at the back of his gallery in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

One such artist is Tham Siew Inn, 61, from Klang. He came to Malacca at the end of 2002.

Having sold his Klang home, he now lives, works and sells his painting from an old pre-war shophouse in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, with his wife and two sons.

Tham, who uses watercolour, ink acrylic and a combination of both mediums for his artwork, can be seen walking around the historical city with his sketchbook.

“I sketch whenever I get an idea. I then improve the sketches in my paintings later,” he said.

Home studio: Low uses oil as a medium in his artwork. He also favours pastel and acrylic.

Tham said, although Kuala Lumpur offered a lot of art galleries and people were willing to pay big money for his artwork, the city was not conducive for creative work.

“But Malacca, which is much quieter, peaceful, relaxed and historical, is a good place to live and work for creative people.”

Like Tham, many other artists who have settled here find the town has similar attractions.

One of the artists who moved from Johor Baru to Malacca early on in 1988 is wood sculptor Chong Choon Kim.

Chong, who spent four years learning art in Paris prior to settling down in Malacca, carves wood at his home-cum-studio at Jalan Kampung Kuli.

His work is not only artistic but can be used as furniture.

Functional: Some wood sculpture created by Chong, which can be used at homes as furniture.

Chong, who has held exhibitions in France, Japan and South Korea, likes the idea of showing his skills to tourists visiting the state.

Negri Sembilan-born Leong Chee Siong, 44 , from Ladang Geddes, settled in Malacca with his wife and two young children after he and his brother bought an old shophouse in Jalan Tukang Emas.

“The shophouse is my home. It is also my working place from where I sell my clay products like vases and lamps.

He said he preferred to live in Malacca where the cost of living is much lower when compared to Kuala Lumpur.

Singaporean artist Low Hai Hong, 66, fell in love with Malacca after visiting the state on a number of occasions.

He rented an old pre-war shophouse as his studio in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock in 2003 and juggles his time between Singapore and Malacca regularly.

“You cannot find such place in Singapore any more. I like it here,” he said.

Originally published in The Star on


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