An artistic interpretation of oil and gas in Brunei

Daniel Lim

Expressing oneself can be done in several ways, but none is more expressive than the form of creative artwork that can be seen for all to enjoy.

Thirty local artists from across the country were recently able to showcase their talents and interpretations through mural artworks as part of the Open Air Gallery at the Billionth Barrel Monument in Seria.

As a curated selection by Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd (BSP) with support from the Culture and Arts Divison under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the murals – which are now on display for visitors to the monument – represent each artist’s interpretation of BSP’s past and present.

As such, each mural has a unique personality of its own as the artists poured their heart and soul into their creations.

Mural found at the Open Air Gallery at the Billionth Barrel Monument in Seria. PHOTOS: DANIEL LIM
HR Policy Advisor for BSP Nur Mazirah binti Morni with her mural artwork
ABOVE & BELOW: Dato Paduka Haji Shofry bin Haji Abdul Ghafor speaking on his experience of painting mural artworks as part of the Open Air Gallery at the Billionth Barrel Monument in Seria; and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin with Muhammad Mawardi bin Murasedi. PHOTOS: DANIEL LIM

FROM THE EYES OF A GRADUATE

Among the murals that were painted on the wind-breakers at the Billionth Barrel Monument was a realistic interpretation of an old style fuel pump adorned with the Shell logo.

This was painted by Muhammad Mawardi bin Murasedi, a fresh Universiti Brunei Darussalam graduate who was fortunate to have been provided the unique opportunity to make his mark on the monument.

“My idea was to make the mural painting as realistic as possible, and to achieve that, I have used a style that makes it appear as 3D,” he noted.

Using a reference photo from BSP’s past, he was then able to take the old image of an old fuel pump and paint in black and white, which is not only akin to the old days where photos were taken in black and white, but also helps sell the vintage importance of such a pump to passers-by.

As part of the Billionth Barrel Monument, the mural will represent a major portion of telling stories to visitors. Muhammad Mawardi noted by painting the old style fuel pump, he wanted visitors to not only feel the heritage of such a vintage piece of equipment, but also nostalgia for locals visiting the site. He recalled that an elderly person who visited the monument when he was painting the mural recalled seeing a similar fuel pump in his youth.

“I also hope that the mural will help encourage the recalling and telling of stories from the old days, especially for the people living in Seria,” he continued.

While experienced in the field of arts, Muhammad Mawardi noted that as this was his first time painting a mural of this size and he hopes that, in the future, whenever the opportunity presents itself, to partake in painting at other artistic showcases as well.

INTERPRETATION OF DIGITALISATION THROUGH ART

Among the murals painted on the wind-breakers being themed around the Oil and Gas Industry, one that stood out was painted by Digitalisation Manager at BSP Sofiah Umar, who explained that the mural contains more than what meets the eye.

“The theme that I have gone with for the mural is Innovative Technologies, and depicted on the murals are the layers of the Earth in the background and dominating the centre of the mural is a mobile application showing the T201 Rig,” she explained.

The significance of the T201 Rig derived from BSP striving to be one of the Innovative Technology leaders, and the rig itself is a commemoration of the many innovative technologies that have been employed by BSP over the many years which have enabled the various achievements and accomplishments made possible by the technologies utilised for the former rig.

In dealing with innovative technologies, Sofiah hopes that the mural she painted will help encourage visitors to think about the significance on how these technologies have helped BSP and the country find their stride.

She also noted that those who are more knowledgeable about these technologies can decipher the binary code that she painted on the top of the mural for a small insight and the title of the mural itself.

She noted that, in addition to the mural that she painted, she hopes that visitors, both local and foreign alike, will be able to see the diversity and the interpretation each artist has on the theme of the Oil and Gas Industry in the country.

ANOTHER SIDE OF THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY

When thinking about the oil and gas industry, one might conjure up the image of a rig and nodding donkey, which is what made the mural painted by HR Policy Advisor for BSP Nur Mazirah binti Morni, stand out, as its heading sported the name of Panaga Health Centre.

As she explained, the mural she painted highlights the importance of the centre in caring for the patients admitted as well as significant milestones since it was established back in 1968.

“Not a lot of people know of the Panaga Health Centre and its significance, and one of the messages that I want to give to visitors is how it is a part of BSP and how it has played a role in enabling BSP to contribute back to the community.”

Similar to many of the artists involved, despite having some background in art and actively partaking in artistic showcases which she displays on Instagram, this was her first experience in painting a mural of such size. She expressed interest in continuing to pursue similar projects whenever the opportunity presents itself in the future.

PASSION TO INSPIRE EVEN VETERAN ARTIST

As one of the two veteran artists invited to paint on the wind-breakers was Dato Paduka Haji Shofry bin Haji Abdul Ghafor, who has a pedigree and history in creating and sharing his landscape paintings of places he has visited, and the mural he painted is no different.

“Depicted on the mural here was a trip by boat to one of the offshore platforms at Fairly Fields, and while the reference photo I used was an aerial picture, I painted the mural to put the viewer on a boat closing in and preparing to board the platform,” he explained.

As such, the mural that Dato Shofry painted was slated to depict the waves crashing onto the boat.

“As an artist, making murals such as this is a challenge for many of us but it is an experience that is one of a kind, as we get to not only see others in action but also learn more about the various artistic expressions that can be laid out on a mural.” With a majority being young artists, he expressed his delight on how the younger generation of artists are able to express their creativity on an open blank canvas, saying that “seeing so much energy and passion gives me a lot of hope and optimism that they are able to take the initiative to showcase their talents and skills to their fullest”.

Furthermore, as the Chairman of the Brunei Art Forum, he said that with the success of the murals being painted at the monument, he wants to help create a greater appreciation for art made by the local artists in the community.

“Nothing can provide a greater opportunity than to have the artwork presented to the public to enjoy in areas that are easily accessible for visitors to appreciate them,” he said, while expressing his gratitude to BSP and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for providing such a unique opportunity.

He also hopes that visitors, especially young children, will be able to visit and view the mural, which not only helps instil an appreciation for art, but also helps inspire and encourage them to do something similar to further foster the next generation of talented artists of the country.