From 1983–84 I was a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, studying visual communication in the Malaysian advertising industry, and during this period I created a suite of sepia-toned ink illustrations of Georgetown. I returned to Penang in 1999, this time as a Fulbright fellow, and was invited by the Alliance Française to mount a solo exhibition of this work, to which I added some new images. In 2003, I showed the work again, this time in the United States, again adding more images. Thus, the paintings of Georgetown shown here span a period of twenty years, mostly during the period of rent control, a policy that underlay both Georgetown's preservation and its decay.

All of the paintings are in ink on illustration board, some with small additions of acrylic. I have used salt, rice, alcohol, and other desiccants to recreate the textures of decomposition seen on much of Georgetown's architecture. Most of the images are based on photographs that I took at sunrise and sunset, when the juxtaposition of shadow and light are optimum. My goal was to highlight the beauty of the mundane, the overlooked, the pedestrian, which, for me, made Georgetown, in the era before it became a UNESCO heritage site, so captivating.


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pp. 145-158
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