Zooming in on living heritage

Guests inquiring about the ‘Traditional Trades of Penang’ book after its launching at The Star Pitt St. in George Town.

Guests inquiring about the ‘Traditional Trades of Penang’ book after its launching at The Star Pitt St. in George Town.

TRADITIONAL trades that are often overlooked in Penang have been beautifully captured and documented in a 248-page book.

Author Chin Yoon Khen, a project programme management advisor, said his Traditional Trades of Penang book comprised photographs of 54 different trades that he found in the state.

“Besides the photographs, I have also included the descriptions of the skilled trade workers.

“All the artisans who worked with me for the book were very helpful and did not mind spending their time talking to me about their trades and the authentic skills involved,” he added.

He said this after the launching of the book at The Star Pitt St. in George Town on Sunday.

Photographs from the book are also being exhibited at Level 1 of the building.

The exhibition is open to the public daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission is free.

Chin, 30, added that he started to take photographs of the trade workers for fun.

“I also included in the pictures the artisan’s details for my personal documentation purposes.

“After collecting 16 photographs of different trades, I decided to compile them into an e-book.

“Later, I received encouraging response for the e-book which got me the idea of creating this book,” he said.

The 54 artisans featured in the book were also present.

One of them was Ng Chai Tiam, 75, who does seal-cutting and Chinese brush paintings.

Ng said he went to Hong Kong in his early 20s to learn the traditional art techniques before coming back to Penang and opening his own business.

“The younger generation does not give traditional trades much importance,” he added.

“But I felt so honoured when Chin recognised my work and put me in his book,” he added.

“I am so proud to be a part of this book launch and also happy that my works are appreciated by society,” he said happi-ly.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the event, said Penang was a state that gave artists the full freedom to express themselves.

“Art and culture are well appreciated and celebrated in this state,” he said. –  Logeiswary Thevadass

This article first appeared on 4 Feb 2015 in The Star