Art has a capacity for imagination that goes beyond what teachers have deliberately cultivated in an exam-focused school environment. The Usaha Tegas Heritage (UTH) Art Competition was established for precisely this: to serve as a platform for emerging young Malaysians in schools, especially those in universities and colleges to express themselves while enriching the local art landscape with their unique perspective. Recently, 25 fledgling artists were awarded and recognised for their talents in five categories: charcoal, pencil or ink; mixed media; oil or acrylic; printmaking; and watercolour.
The first prize winner in each category received RM8,000. They are Jasper Junior (from University Malaysia Sabah, for his work Laga Biji Getah, under the charcoal, pencil and ink category); Oon Zheng Yeow (Equator College, Kuih Kapit, watercolour); Wong Jia Jin (Dasein Academy of Art, Reminiscence, oil or acrylic); Goo See Min (Dasein Academy of Art, Fresh Outlook, mixed media); and Ong Wen Xin (Dasein Academy of Art, Pasar, printmaking).
A total of 345 physical submissions were received this year from 48 public and private institutions as well as nine secondary schools. The competition, sponsored by UTSB Management Sdn Bhd, focuses on Malaysia’s intangible cultural heritage, a theme in line with the country’s entry into the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under Unesco for the 2022-to-2026 term.
“We are truly encouraged by the participation of young students who are so passionate about art, [as this shows there is an] enduring appeal of traditional visual arts among today’s digital generation. We are committed to fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of art through our annual competition, and confident that our commitment will continue to nurture this positive trend,” says Henry Tan, chairman of the UTH Art Competition.
Cash prizes were also given out to those in second place (RM3,000) and third place (RM2,000). All winners received an award certificate and TGV cinema vouchers worth RM500.
This article first appeared on Nov 27, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.