Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Temple of Fine Arts, Brickfields

I often find doing research online on my photo subjects frustrating. What the heck, I find Malaysian history frustrating not for its lack of interestingness but for a lack of comprehensiveness and content. There's so much I want to know about an area in KL and this being THE major city in Malaysia, the local history of an area is as dry or even non existent. Its sad we have such a rich source of history, culture and life that to lose it without really knowing is just sad.

Take for example, I was trying to find out information on Kampung Abdullah Hukum for a photo shoot with the KL Flickrs but a net search turns up.... nothing. Its really frustrating and a loss that once the area of kampung houses nested in the midst of the bustling city goes, there won't be a reminder of it at all. Maybe thats why I travel off the beaten tracks to document all the sights you don't find in the guide books and cosy 'must visit' sites. I wander down the backlanes, the off road places and stumbled into nuggets of wonderful areas I never knew existed before.

It's the same for Brickfields, walking and seeing so many sight and wanting to know more, and finding yourself hitting a brickwall (sorry about the pun, its unintentional) is just hard. I wish there was a guide to KL like the one written by Khoo Nasutian on the Streets of Penang. It was informative, it gave the history of each area and street and even a photo guide that is ever so useful. People buy it if you're going backpacking in Penang, its worth the RM30 you pay for it.

Like I said, I wanted to know more about the Palace of Fine Arts in Brickfields but there just wasn't information. Well I could play investigative journalism but there isn't time. Well this place was just exhilarating, tucked away from the main activity of the main roads, here was an oasis of culture and the arts. To see young girls practicing classical dances, reciting the verses and the myriad of body gestures in an Indian classical play was enchanting to say the least. I always thought Malaysian were very hip with the arts and this proves it even more. Well next time you're walking by Lorong Berhala, take some time and step into this little open space and take a few minutes to view the students in their practice. These are the future generation that will be the guardians of our lore and culture. For now enjoy the photos.


The note book of one of the dancers.


Step to the back, past the aromatic scent emitting from a thousand spices of dishes being prepared in the kitchen and you'll find the prayer hall which is also the practice areas for the dancers.


The girl in one of the positions as instructed by her mentor.


The lady sitting down must be proud to see that the younger generation is taking up the lessons joyfully and that the knowledge she is imparting will be passed on and maybe generations from now the same scene will be as it was now, a teacher with her students, dancing.


Picking up the various stances, gestures, facial expressions and timing is no easy task and its all practice and repetition until finally there was only perfection.


Not only dance was taught. The artist must be both tutored in body, spirit and mind. Here the teacher is explaining some of the texts in the Buddhist and Hindu scripts to her young charge, patiently explaining all his questions.


Taking a break in between her practice, dancing is strenuous and hard but at the same time fun.


A trio of dancers in a pose.


Classes were conducted in the open with multiple instructors coaching several different classes in the different art forms.


A student in a classical pose.


To end here's a little decor hanging from the gift shop at the Temple of Fine Arts.


Anonymous said...

tfa is run by a international ngo - they have branches in india, few states in msia, singapore and in perth, australia - checkout the link for more info

besides dance n music classes, they also run free medical services, and pay as u wish restaurants

hope that helps


ronni said...

Doing some research on" Lorong Berhala "hand wtitten note on old photo, can you tell me if Lorong Berhala is in KL?

Kervin said...

Yes Lorong Berhala is located at Brickfields along the Buddhist Mahavihara Temple

Anonymous said...

Some beautiful pictures and a decent write up on this institution. Just some minor corrections due, I believe: 1. It is 'Jalan Berhala' and not 'Lorong Berhala'.

2. It is the Temple of Fine Arts and not 'Palace of Fine Arts', though I am sure they would be flattered that you referred to their modest structure as a palace too. However, this might be why you could not find information on it - wrong name.

3. Brickfields isn't really a hub for tourism yet, as Penang island is. If one was to write a book and publish it, where would you sell it? The easiest source of any information these days is the web - no need for detailed investigative journalism there - and just google Temple of Fine Arts and you will have enough information to fill a whole blog!!! It is one of the most documented, popular institutions in Malaysia for culture and art, having nearly 30 years of history.