Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Editor's Note: We are happy to introduce you to Fairuz 'Zabady. He's a recognised figure in the street art scene in Brunei. In this feature, Fai shares about his humble beginnings and offers sage advice from years of practising this craft. Follow his journey on Instagram @stain.bn and reach out to him for all things murals, graffiti and art supplies and workshops. Keep up the good work, bro!
Tell us about yourself.
For my day job, I'm a film maker working at Origin Films. But my first love has always been painting. I graduated from University of Southampton, UK with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts and have been actively painting (specifically Graffiti Art) since 2005.
When did your passion for art begin?
Both my parents are creatives, I guess that's where I got most of the drive from. I've always enjoyed drawing, scribbling and painting ever since I can remember. But about 2005 was when I first picked up and fell in love with spray paint, graffiti and its culture, the rest was history. It was unique, rebellious and I was determined to be the best at it. It became my main medium of producing art.
How did you develop your talent? Share with us your choice in medium of art.
I never considered myself talented, but people started noticing my work. Maybe because spray paint was not an ordinary medium to use for painting, and the attention that I received from it, drove me to do better each time I produced an artwork. I spent a lot of time experimenting with my medium, trying out different techniques and brands, analyzing my latest work, and to identify what needs to be improved, added, removed in the next one. My work consists of a lot of visual problem solving to achieve a piece of work that is visually pleasing. I spent years with this process. I painted almost daily when I could.
At the start, did you have a mentor or attend workshops?
With graffiti, it's a very lonely world when you are starting out. It still is. Maybe it's because of the negative connotation that lingers around it. You secretly sketch in your sketchbook out of interest / curiosity and there isn't anybody to tell you what's wrong or right. It was the same for me too. I never attended any workshops nor had a mentor, and everything in my practice is self-taught. This was because these resources were not easily available. All I had were "graff" friends and we bounced ideas and sketches off each other and that's how we improved.
After a while, you will start to notice your own weaknesses in your work and act upon them. We were our own mentors. We had to figure out ourselves how to work the spray paint, which nozzles to use, which brands to use, etc. But today, with the advanced technology of internet and social media, everything is within reach. A simple search on YouTube can already teach you the basics of graffiti.
In your perspective, what do you think about the art scene in Brunei?
Young and a little bit all over the place.
It's not a bad thing, and because it's dominated by the youth, the drive is strong. Everybody wants to prove something in their work and it's great. However, it's not as united as it should be. Maybe because the support given to creatives are limited, whether in the sense of education or even professionally. We grow up brainwashed to accept the skewed fact "If you aren't smart enough, you go to art class". So when artists try to make a living here professionally, we are considered less equal and less valuable by majority of the public regardless of how talented one is.
Within the art communities itself, it is noticed that the political / personal agendas affect the unity of the art community as a whole. The unity between the different generations (young & old) of artists is also non-visible. I strongly believe, Art should speak as one, art should have a united voice. There is much growing up to do in the current art scene in Brunei.
Any suggested solutions?
A more focused syllabus in the art education system. Also, greater support for the local artists by relevant bodies. And of course, someday an arts district to be allocated, where everything creative is in one area/place, including more wall space for our mural art.
Are they any future projects or something you're working on that you'd like to share with everyone?
The second Graffiti Art competition "Write This". Which is scheduled to happen middle of the year. If you've missed last year's, check out these videos on YouTube.
Finally, any advice to those who want to get into graffiti art?
A lot of of the younger creatives that I've met always question their ability to produce good work. They don't believe in themselves enough to produce good work, or refuse to challenge themselves to produce work because they are scared of judgement, or come up with many excuses to start making good work, for example the latest I've heard when I asked, "When are you gonna start with spray?". To my surprise their answers were along the lines of "nda berani bro, tunggu handal bro." Which loosely translates to "I'm not courageous enough, wait till I become an expert".
In a country of limited freedom of expression, there should be a drive to produce more mind awakening art. But instead we see a wave of "Let's not do that because we might get into trouble". We need to rid ourselves off this mentality. Work within your bubble, but make the bubble grow. My advice is, to tell you the hard truth. I did not get to where I am just by talent alone. It took years of almost daily painting and practice to master my art, and I am still learning constantly.
Every day is a learning process. The more you wait, the more you are scared to learn from your mistakes and another day is lost for improvement. If you are interested in graffiti, just pick up that spray can and do it. There's nothing to lose if you start now. If you need specific technique advice, just contact me on Instagram, I'll do my best to advice.
New music video from Azizi Sabri, featuring Aadilah.
Group photo of Camp-tastic participants, facilitators and volunteers
Graduate Sharing Session with Curtin Malaysia alumni
Curtin Malaysia Press Release: 1 March 2017
Events over the last weekend at the campus of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) received good response from potential students, their parents and teachers. ‘Curtin Camp-tastic 2017’, the first integrated faculty learning camp organised by Curtin Malaysia, attracted over 180 third, fourth and fifth formers from secondary schools in the Miri and Bintulu divisions and Brunei.
The two-day camp was facilitated by academic staff of Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science, Faculty of Business and Faculty of Humanities led by Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Beena Giridharan.
Themed ‘Cultivate, Innovate, Captivate’, the camp aimed to inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through a project-based curriculum on a variety of subjects.
It also provided interesting science and engineering, humanities and skills based activities entitled ‘Stargazing’, ‘Journey to Mars’, “Curtin’s Next Top Entrepreneur’, ‘Introduction to Photojournalism’, ‘Language Skill Games’ and ‘Developing Personal Leadership’. In addition, the participants enjoyed side activities such as an ‘Amazing Race’ and tour of the campus.
In the closing session, the participants, facilitators and student volunteers got together to reflect on their experiences during the camp. In her closing remarks, Professor Giridharan encouraged the students to continue pursuing their interest in different academic fields and reminded them of the importance of a good education.
Many of the participants commented that the sessions run by the faculties were very enriching, allowing them to gain insights into university studies and career pathways they can pursue in the future. They were also glad for the opportunity to make new friends and have fun while learning.
Stargazing activity organised by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) as part of Camp-Tastic 2017
Participants presenting business pitches during ‘Curtin’s Next Top Entrepreneur’ session
Doris Chelam, one of the teachers accompanying students from SMK Tinjar, Baram in a letter to the university praised it for not just motivating the students to pursue tertiary studies after their SPM but also for its warm hospitality.
“We felt very welcome and were well taken care of, particularly some of our students who were unwell. We are grateful for the opportunity for rural students to explore an internationally-renowned university and we hope to collaborate in organising outreach projects in Baram in the future,” Doris stated.
Editor's Note: Since 2010, Projek Brunei has aimed to help re-tell the Brunei story through the stories of the people. Everyone has a story, and we believe that the more we listen to the perspectives of others, the more time we take to understand someone else's point of view, the richer and fuller our own perspectives and opinions become. We have interviewed close to 100 people - students, professionals, NGOs, expats, creatives, etc - and it does not cease to amaze us how, truly, everyone is unique with their own stories.
In this feature, I chat with social media influencer, Nabeela from Lipstickmyname. She talks about what makes her tick, fashion muses, and shares a few highlights from her colourful journey so far. Be sure to check out her website and IG too.
What do you do?
I always find it difficult to answer when asked to describe what I do. The title sort of bounces back and forth between a fashion-blogger and a social media influencer. I'd like to think of Lipstickmyname as a brand that features the style and clothes that are personally curated by me. Currently, I work with a lot of international brands but I hope with this platform, together with our local designers and other local bloggers, we can elevate the fashion/apparel industry in Brunei and connect it with other markets.
Describe yourself in a few words.
I have asked my best friends to give me a word each because you know what they say, best friends know you better. They came up with the following: Strong. Brave. Strong-headed. Playful. Passionate. Perfectionist. Audacious. They forgot to mention that I am also a dreamer and my head's always stuck in the clouds... but thankfully, I married someone who is always willing to pull me back down to earth.
What are you passionate about?
Fashion. Fashion to me is a form of expression, because you choose what you want to wear, what colour, how you style it, etc. Designs have stories behind them and I am always in awe when designers come up with the unimaginable. I think my favourite thing about it is when you can see the runway being inspired by real-life situations. For example, athleisure (a trend where sportswear is meant to be worn casually) was really turned up a notch when Olympics was held in London and now with all the news on U.S. politics, Balenciaga's A/W 2017 fashion show was inspired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders!
Music. Music is like a time-machine. It transports you to a specific place in time. A bad break-up, falling in love, silly times with your girl friends... it's all bottled up in a three minute song. It's something I will always appreciate.
Cities. The hustle and bustle of a big city will always excite me. The busy streets, bright lights, high street shopping, sky high buildings, established public transportation systems, the diversity of cultures... I can go on. I studied Urban Economic Development in London a few years back and learnt a lot about cities, how they came about, their sustainability, how they're regulated... it's all very interesting.
What are your impressions about the fashion scene in Brunei?
I think it has always been there, but it has recently gained momentum and I do hope that our fashion industry can become a really successful one. We have always talked about diversification and I truly believe it's something that could work. Last year, there were a lot of fashion events, mostly in modest fashion and for bridal wear, we see more of our local designers penetrating foreign markets, an increase in stores carrying international labels and a lot of bloggers getting international exposure.
In 2016, you attended a few international fashion events. What were some highlights from those experiences?
i. Meeting all the people! I definitely fangirled over a few celebrities and social media personalities!
ii. Sitting front row at Adila Long's KLFW presentation in a custom Adila Long jumpsuit that she gifted to me. The jumpsuit was made from the fabric that was used during the show.
iii. Sitting front row next to Emma (@emmashazleen) and Faa (@faafirds) at the FashionValet show in Jakarta.
Who are some of your favorite designers / labels? Why?
Right now I can only pin it down two Malaysian designers. Number one, Adila Long. She is actually an architect, and me being a hardcore fan of structure, it's no surprise really that I love everything she does. And number two, Nurita Harith. Her designs are always impeccable, dainty and just... goddess-like. In terms of high street brands, Zara is my go-to place to shop. It has everything I'm looking for. I never leave that shop empty-handed!
You have an active and likeable Instagram account. Why is social media important for what you do?
Social media enables you to cross borders and market your products without having to actually leave the country. My followers come from Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, etc and with that I'm able to spread brand awareness across a wider audience.
Any interesting events or projects coming up in 2017?
Ooh! I can't say! Because I don't want to scare my luck away hehe! But I do have a few things lined up for the year and hopefully it will all work out well.
Complete this sentence: In three years...
...hopefully achieve the things I want in life and be proud of what I've accomplished.
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give the 21 year old you?
I was in my final year in Nottingham when I was 21. So... I'd probably tell myself to drop Time Series Analysis and take an easier module, buy better clothes and travel more.
Finally, any shoutouts?
I think my husband deserves the biggest shoutout for being such an amazing support. I wouldn't be able to do what I love to do, if it weren't for him.
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