Budding artist receives prestigious certificate

James Kon

Budding artist Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani binti Mahli Shah of Meragang Sixth Form Centre (PTEM) received the prestigious Certificate of Merit for the 21st International High School Arts Festival in Japan.

Her winning painting, Pemarang Nini (Grandfather’s Machetes), along with four other artworks created by students from Brunei Darussalam, was on exhibit at the National Art Centre, Tokyo (NACT) from August 5 to 12.

The annual event was organised by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC), to nurture young talent and promote international exchange through art.

The competition drew 14,000 entries from high school students around the world, but only the top 500 were selected for the exhibition.

The overall winner from Brunei Darussalam was supposed to travel to Japan to receive the award and interact with young artists from other countries, but the trip was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The awards ceremony was carried out through an online platform.

Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani told the Bulletin, “It’s an honour to be selected as the winner from Brunei Darussalam for the International High School Arts Festival 2020. I didn’t expect it, but I am happy that I’ve made my parents proud.

Budding artist Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani binti Mahli Shah of Meragang Sixth Form Centre (PTEM) was chosen as the overall winner from Brunei Darussalam to receive the prestigious Certificate of Merit for the 21st International High School Arts Festival in Japan. Photo shows Siti Nur Basirah posing with her award.
Meragang Sixth Form Centre participants with officials from the school and Department of Co-Curriculum Education. PHOTOS: JAMES KON
Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani binti Mahli Shah’s ‘Pemarang Nini’ submission

“It’s my first art award. Previously, I never thought of taking part in any competition, as I lacked confidence in my art skills. But with the encouragement from my art tutors at PTEM, I decided to join this competition.” However, her joy was diminished after not being able to travel to Japan. “It’s quite unfortunate that my mother and I couldn’t make the trip. I was really looking forward to it. I hope and pray that this pandemic will be over soon,” she said.
On her award-winning creation, she said, “It’s a painting of a machete handcrafted by my grandfather, Haji Abdul Latiff bin Haji Yassin, who has worked as a carpenter for over 40 years.

He produced the knife about 10 years ago, and I found the carvings so beautiful and intricate, that I decided to make it as the subject of my piece.

“It took a month to finish the painting as the details were time-consuming and required great patience.”

Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani became aware of her aptitude for art when she scored an A* for Art & Design in her ‘O’ Levels. “I realised that I felt joy in creating artworks and sharpening my skills in the field,” she said.

“Now that I am studying at PTEM, I’ve continued taking art as one of my ‘A’ Level subjects. I am also learning new skills and how to build concepts to a higher level.“

She thanked her supporters and expressed gratitude to IFAC, the Embassy of Japan in Brunei Darussalam and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

This is the second time a PTEM student was chosen to receive the award. The first was Siti Nur Rabiatul Adawiyah binti Abdullah Aminor Riza in 2018.

In the wake of this achievement, Siti Nur Basirah Syahzani and the other participants from PTEM were presented with prizes by Acting Deputy Director of Co-Curriculum Hajah Hajidah binti Haji Abdul Wahab, in an awards ceremony hosted by the MoE’s Department of Co-Curriculum Education.