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SEA Studies Symposium 2013 – Special Performances

Htein Lin (Burmese artist and activist)



Born in 1966 in Mezaligon, a village north of Henzada in Burma’s northern Irrawaddy Delta, Burmese artist, activist, and former political prisoner Htein Lin has painted and performed since childhood. He was member of many anyeint groups (comedy/drama) while at University, and was a Burmese cinema comedian (Htein Htein) in the mid-1990s. He took part in the 1988 pro-democracy movement in Burma and spent four years in exile in India and Northern Burma in camps of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), a group opposed to the military government, and spent more than 6 years as a political prisoner in Burma from 1998-2004.

Since his release, Htein Lin has performed all over the world. After Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in 2008, he has held street performances in London, Paris, Bergen, Oslo and Norway to raise awareness. His work from prison was shown at Asia House (London) in 2007. He has had exhibitions in Thailand, Hong Kong, Bath (UK), London and Turin in 2008. Two of his paintings reside in the new US Embassy in Yangon. Others are in Belgium, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, US and UK. He is currently working out of London, and in addition to art and performance, he continues to contribute writing and illustrations to magazines back in Burma. He was a member of the selection panel for the first Freedom to Create prize in 2008 and was a judge for the Koestler Trust prison arts competition in 2010.

Htein Lin sees himself as an artist, not a political activist. But while he regards art used in the service of politics as something that insults the value of both, he believes political events can inspire art, and those events can sometimes even swallow up an artist. When the artist emerges, he will be changed by the experience, and thereby become the painting, and no longer the painter.


The Oxford Gamelan Society

DSC_0192The Oxford Gamelan Society is one of Britain’s foremost amateur gamelan groups. The society meets every Wednesday in term time to play on a heirloom gamelan, Kyai Madu Laras (Venerable Sweet Harmony) belonging to the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, in the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford.

The Society is under the direction of Pete Smith, who discovered gamelan as a music student at York University. He received a scholarship to continue his studies in Indonesia where he enrolled at STSI, the Academy of Indonesian Arts in Central Java from 1992 to 1995. Since returning to the UK, Pete has taught at every level of the education system and has been instrumental in setting up many of the UK’s gamelan programmes.

The Oxford Gamelan Society has performed in many different occasions and colleges within Oxford, including St John’s and St Anne’s. The Society also performed as part of a concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bate Collection in 2011. Beyond Oxford, the Society has also collaborated and performed with different gamelan groups from Durham and York.

The Society also brought the beautiful music of gamelan to Southeast Studies Symposium 2012, where their performed ladrang Moncer, ketawang Kasatriyan / lancaran Kedhu / ladrang Pakumpulan, lancaran Lumbung Desa, tari Asmaradana, and gendhing Kutut Manggung.

Please visit the Oxford Gamelan Society website for more information.


Sarawak Cultural Village and the Sarawak Cultural Show

iban_danceTucked away at the foothills of legendary Mount Santubong, 35 km from Kuching is Sarawak’s fascinating cultural showcase, the award winning “Sarawak Cultural Village” which is also the venue for the internationally renowned World Harvest Festival and the Rainforest World Music Festival.

This living museum is wholly owned by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) depicts the heritage of the major racial groups in Sarawak and conveniently portrays their respective lifestyle amidst 14 acres of tropical vegetation

Here, it is possible to see Sarawak’s ethnic diversity at a glance. The handicraft is both bewildering and tempting, including the Kain Songket (Malay cloth with gold inlay), Pua Kumbu (Iban housewives textiles), Melanau Terendak (sunhat), Bidayuh Tambok (basket), Iban Parang (swords), Orang Ulu wood carving and Chinese ceramics.

The 45-minute cultural performance of songs, dances and entertainment is something you will not want to miss. Sarawak Cultural Village’s award-winning dancers and musicians present their famous multicultural performance. Spectacular costumes and elegant dance routines provide an entertaining and enjoyable introduction to Sarawak’s ethnic groups and their cultures. The dance troupe brings fame to the land, creating awes and gasps from Australia to the Americas and across the globe.

Charming Orang Ulu maidens folllowing the pattern of the hornbills or the rugged Iban warrior performing the ngajat, shield in hand are to dancing the rhythm of deep gongs and rainforest musical instruments.

For more information, please visit the Sarawak Cultural Village website.