Open Studios Penang, happening this year for the first time, is a weekend packed full of exhibitions, talks, workshops, and of course artists opening their studios to the public. This article gives an over view of the various talks that are happening over the weekend of June 14th-16th. A few of the talks will be of great interest to both artists themselves and also those who enjoy and are interested in art, and others are more specialised, aimed primarily at the artist community.  

Beginning with the former, an event likely to attract a crowd is the panel discussion, taking place on Saturday June 15th from 2pm-4pm at Viva Victoria, 169 Lebuh Victoria. It is entitled Art in Penang, Today and Tomorrow. Luminaries of the Penang art scene, including Chairman of Penang State Art Gallery Lee Khai, author of Malaysia’s Canvas James Springer and others will discuss hot topics such as what, if anything, makes art in Penang different from art anywhere else, the role of art festivals and art weeks in Penang and more. The audience will be able to ask questions and join in the discussion. There is no need to book but it is advisable to arrive early to get a good seat.

On the same day, at 11am at the Art Space at ChinaHouse you can attend Land[e]scape Hanoi, a talk by two of Hanoi’s leading artists, Ha Manh Thang and Pham Huy Thong. As successful young artists who have incorporated Vietnam’s history and culture into a modern interpretation and commentary on social history, they walk a fine line in what is still a very repressive country. They will talk about the challenge of working as an artist in Vietnam and about their exhibition here in Penang, which is being held at Urban Green Cabin, also on Victoria Street.

Sharon Kow, a successful colour pencil artist, living and working in Penang, will give a talk on Friday 14th June at 6pm at ChinaHouse Art Space introducing her art and explaining how it can be considered fine art, not just child’s play. She will also hold a workshop during the weekend for those who would like to get some hands-on experience of colour pencil art. Ilza Burchett, whose site-specific Infinity project will be created throughout the weekend in the courtyard at ChinaHouse, will give a talk on her Personal Philosophy of Art in ChinaHouse Art Space at 1pm on Sunday 16th, after you have had a chance to see her artwork develop during the previous days.

For the artist community specifically, there are a number of talks designed to assist and inspire. A Reluctant Artist, by successful artist Madeline Ekeblad, will provide advice for artists on building confidence in their abilities, and is based on her book of the same name. It takes place on Friday 14th June at 2pm at Viva Victoria, where you can also see an exhibition of her work. Of great practical advice to artists planing to make a full-time career from their work are two back-to-back talks arranged by Penang Arts District on Sunday 16th June beginning at 3pm, covering the situation for artists and taxes, and artists and budgeting. There is a small charge for these talks which include light refreshments, and registration is required via this link. Also Choon Haw of ChromaArt Studio, will talk on Printing and Print Preparation for Artists and Photographers, explaining the printing process, choosing the right paper and more. He will give the talk on both the 15th and 16th June at 4pm at ChinaHouse Art Space. It is free of charge, but booking is advisable by emailing him at

For more details about each of the talks, and about the rest of the activities happening during the Open Studios Penang weekend, check the website or facebook page.