Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
Editor's Note: There is a saying that goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats." It is associated with the idea that improvements in an ecosystem will benefit all participants in that ecosystem. Shinny is a colourful catalyst and her journey and efforts through The Collective Art Events has lifted the local creative tide. Read on, get to know her a little better, but more importantly, I hope you catch Shinny's spark.
Find out more about the collective here.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I'm a free spirited human that runs local creative company 'the collective'.
Describe yourself in a few words.
Unfiltered, adventurous, down to earth lover of the arts.
You are a #girlboss. What advice would you give the 16 year old you?
I would tell myself to stop worrying about things that ultimately aren't a big deal in the bigger picture, and focus on building myself up, building real skills, and making real connections. I think when you're a teenager, it's easy to get caught up in silly teenage drama and look for the wrong kind of validation. You so easily lose sight of the opportunity to start building yourself as a person, while you actually have the time, because you're worried what other people will think of your choices.
Even at 16 it's so important to be aware of the world around you, and be involved in life beyond the confines of the bubble of high school, so you can start building the foundation for becoming the person you want to be.
I'd probably also tell my 16 year old self not to take family time for granted and stay disciplined. Focus and dedication are important!
Have you always been creative?
I have actually always been creative but I think I've expressed it in ways that are atypical to a normal artist. I had a really vivid imagination as a kid! My first creative 'project' was probably designing clothing. I was a magazine hoarder and had a million issues of Vogue and used to design things I wanted to wear to be like the glamorous ladies in the magazines!
Describe your creative brainstorming process.
I don't know that I have a particular process. My brain can't really handle routine so I don't even have a standard process for brainstorming. I just like to constantly seek out new adventures and experiences, see new things, do new things and just kind of break my brain out of any monotony. I do brainstorm better by myself because I get distracted easily. Having said that, when I find someone who I bounce off well with creatively, it's the best thing ever! You can't beat a good human connection!
On a scale of 0 - 10, (0 = nonexistent and dry, 10 = vibrant and flourishing) where would you place Brunei's creative scene? Why?
I think we're currently at a 5. The local creative scene has picked up a lot in the last two years, and everyone I've spoken to has echoed the same sentiment. There's a lot more happening now, on a regular basis than there ever has been, and we're starting to see the roots of an arts appreciative culture begin to form, but I think we're also at a really critical stage of growth where the market needs to be carefully grown and self-regulated to ensure that we see a diversity of creative brands/businesses with integrity emerge, otherwise the local art scene is going to grow but not in a sustainable way.
The Bruneian market is so small, that there's a real risk of over saturation from too many businesses doing similar things and cannibalising each other instead of new concepts coming up. I guess in a nutshell, we're kind of halfway because it's growing and stuff is happening finally, but the originality and creativity factor (which creates vibrancy) still has a way to go!
Tell us about the origins of The Collective Art Events.
the collective started from me just being frustrated at not having any creative events to go to in Brunei. I was experiencing a huge culture shock having just moved back to Brunei from Sydney. The original concept I had was to run a hair braiding workshop called braid bar, and after talking to people in the creative community and them wanting to be involved, that concept grew into a small little festival, which grew into a larger festival, and the snowball kept rolling! I feel really grateful every day that people like what the collective is about and support it so much!
The primary objectives are to build a strong local art scene / culture, help build a sustainable commercial market for the local creative industry, and bring a little creative fun and sparkle into peoples lives! the collective didn't start out with the express intention of becoming a business, it was more about just wanting to do some fun creative stuff and meet new people in the process, so that sentiment is always at the heart of everything I do.
Which collective project are you most proud of? Why?
Ahhhhh. Tough question! Probably the Creatives Against Cruelty festival because it pulled in close to a thousand people despite only having a weeks worth of marketing and we helped raise something like $4000 for CAS! It was such a last minute decision to run it and everyone from the vendors to our venue host (local designer Sabrina Wong who started L'Orient), to the public really rallied together to support the cause. A lot of the vendors privately donated more than they needed to, and there was so much support from the public with private donations to CAS and people just coming by to show their support. It just gave me the warm and fuzzies to how much people cared, because I'm a huge animal lover.
Tell us about The Maker Space.
I am SO excited about the Maker Space! The Maker movement is something that is really taking off at the moment and I'm really excited about being able to connect with this global movement towards hand made items. The Collective's Maker Space is going to be a mix of open plan workspace for creatives and retail that features some staple creative brands from our festivals, and a curated selection of arty things we love. I really miss being able to go to a great space, that makes me want to stay and just sit for hours so the space is designed for people to stay for long periods of time! It's basically going to be a go-to space to do your creative work, get inspired, and get your creative product fix!
I think the collective has needed its own space for a long time now: making our installations and other crafty projects usually requires a lot of space and it typically gets messy, and in general, having our own office has become somewhat of a necessity with the company diversifying into other avenues.
There are so many things I've been wanting to expand into and late last year I was lucky enough to find a mentor that helped enable that. the collective is expanding its services to include the launch of a creative design agency handling everything from full-scale branding projects to one off graphic design jobs, so the maker space is our headquarters, where people can find us if they want to talk about how we can help them get things done! There's also going to be a bespoke floristry service at the Maker Space which is going to be completely different from anything that exists in Brunei!
What can we expect from The Collective in 2016 and beyond?
Expect the unexpected, haha! I think the last two years have been a focus on shaking up how people experience events in Brunei and creating that demand for an artistic flair to things and this year it's expanding that focus to creative lifestyle and space. Our flagship events like pop up dinners and our creative arts festival will run, as always!
Shoutout to all the gents who participated in the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride over the weekend! Brunei's first DGR event was part of the global DGR movement, "an international event for Classics, café racers, bobbers, trackers, customs, modern classics, classic scooters & undefinable 2/3 wheeled machines". The Ride aims to raise awareness and money for helping to find a cure for Prostate Cancer.
Here are some photographs from the DGR in Brunei. More information about the Ride on the Gentleman's Ride website.
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