Craft industry gets state support

UNIQUELY SARAWAK … Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (second left) with (from left) Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development Association (Ahpada) and Society Atelier Sarawak president Edric Ong; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; and Kuching South City (MBKS) Mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng admiring posters put on display during the opening of the World Crafts Cities Network Forum held in conjunction with the 10th Biennial World Eco Fiber and Textile (WEFT) Forum, Exhibition and Fashion Show themed ‘Dress and Cultural Identity’ at the new Sarawak Museum Campus yesterday.

KUCHING: The state government together with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture will continue to support Sarawak’s craft industry.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the government will recognise more craft artists and their creations.

“We are pleased to present Certificates of Recognition to our Master Craft artists during the Exhibition on Sarawak Living Legends of Crafts and Craft Masters, and Emerging Craft Communities held last year.

“A list of Living Legends and Young Masters was made and will continue to be updated to include new names. We will also be supporting the publication by Society Atelier Sarawak for a coffee table book and video documentation on this subject,” he said in his speech during the opening of the World Crafts Cities Network Forum held in conjunction with the 10th Biennial World Eco Fiber and Textile (WEFT) Forum, Exhibition and Fashion Show themed ‘Dress and Cultural Identity’ at the new Sarawak Museum Campus yesterday.

Abang Johari pointed out that Kuching has always been known as the gateway to Borneo, and a destination for international art collectors looking for the best of Sarawak and Borneo crafts.

Abang Johari (centre) with (from left) Jabu, Ong, Wee and Empiang showing the woven handicraft from Layar, Betong during a visit to Sarawak Craft Council booth. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

“Reflective of our Sarawak multi-ethnic diversity, Kuching is well-known for its cultural attractions, especially in crafts.

“Many of our Sarawak crafts have received the Unesco-Ahpada (Asean Handicraft Promotion and Development Association) Seal of Excellence since its inception in 2001.

“Sarawak crafts have continued to win awards from the World Crafts Council Award of Excellence for Handicrafts.

“Therefore, Sarawak is indeed proud that Kuching is the first in Malaysia to be conferred as World Crafts Council International City for Crafts on Nov 28 last year, thereby joining the ranks of other international and renowned cities like Jaipur, Isfahan, Jogjakarta and over 40 cities internationally,” he pointed out.

“I must congratulate Society Atelier Sarawak for its dedication and tireless efforts to put Sarawak crafts on the international arts and crafts map. It is a remarkable feat to sustain the WEFT Forum for 20 years,” he said.

In line with the slogan ‘The Future is Hand-Made’ used by World Crafts Council (WCC) the chief minister hoped to see greater creativity in all of the arts and crafts in Sarawak.

“We are ever ready to support and collaborate with WCC International and WCC-Asia Pacific Region on your various projects and exhibitions.

“I look forward to receiving the reports and conclusions made in this forum, and to support them in whatever way we can,” he added.

The forum delegates consisted of speakers, scholars, fashion designers, and craft artists from 20 countries, namely Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan Oman, Iran, Japan, USA, China, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Laos, Britain, Australia, and Malaysia.

Also present were Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, former deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and wife Tan Sri Empiang Jabu and HRH Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Bendoro of Jogjakarta, Indonesia.