George Town Festival 2016: My Time As A Gallery Sitter

I decided to jump onto the GTF bandwagon at the spur of the moment during one of my coffee-fueled midnights of ingenuous ideas without giving it much thought (never give ideas too much thought, or it will only get killed in its infancy). I ended up volunteering for the whole of August as a gallery sitter. Why a gallery sitter? Because I figured that it would give me some time to myself to work on my day job as well (rice on the table and such). It was my very first time volunteering – in fact, my first time at the George Town Festival, I embarrassingly must admit – and definitely, won’t be my last.


We had a couple of meetings at the George Town Festival office on Armenian Street, opposite the Yap Temple. A cosy little corner pre-war lot nestled in the heart of George Town’s bustling heritage hotspots.



Inside the George Town Festival office


I loved the space and how the doorways led into each of them. The old world charm in the architecture was very well preserved and melded seamlessly with the modern furnishings (cheap tables and chairs even look good in there). One thought crossed my mind: Ideas that were borne out of such a workspace could be nothing short of sensational.


My first three days were spent helping to set up for the Beastly installation while keeping my tummy happy (my throat, not so much) by snacking on deep-fried cempedak (evil indulgence from Sri Weld food court). This was also to be my first time holding a paintbrush in more than a decade. It felt so liberating that I ended getting myself a set of water brushes. And through the course of the month, I would find myself yearning to pick up this old hobby of playing with tangible colors again (yes, not the on-screen kind I work with daily).


Most of the days I would be at Wisma Yeap Chor Ee where the Beastly, Lee Lee Nam, Northern Hemisphere and Prologue mainstays were. There were also the AB+C charity exhibition for the benefit of the Penang General Hospital Children’s Cancer Ward and Arts Beyond Sight, a unique experience of sound, touch and taste.


On quiet days, with the sun rays emanating through the windows overlooking the courtyard into the gallery, I find myself quietly contemplating each of the artwork. It was surprisingly calming and therapeutic, and it sort of – for lack of better way to translate the feeling into words – uncovered mysterious and magical doors in me that seemed to be just waiting dormantly for me to explore, down pathways that I never knew existed.



Oreum by Sehyun Lee, 2015


My month of August was made so much more beautiful by the experiences that I had and the people that I met (including old and lost friends).


This experience serves to remind me that my home, George Town, is a treasure trove if only we, the locals, take time to see beyond the all too familiar surface and through new eyes that do not prejudge but let her seduce us with her charm, ever so gracefully.


Half-eaten Time

And it is late. Whatever that should have been done, never was. Whatever that life gave, time stole. ‘Til there is nothing but an endless whirlpool that brings me back to where I first began, only difference is every time I start again from that alpha point, the more lost I get.


A congregation of lost souls, broken souls. Brought together by a mere stroke of fate. In the darkness and blinding strobes, heart soared, only to be flung onto solid ground when the darkness dissipated and the beats died.


If I stand out in the fields, I might just be able to wave you on your way. You know what leaving does to me, don’t you?


I want to lie down on the sand and feel the waves wash over me. I want to feel the scurry of the sandy grains against my skin as the water recedes into the sea.


One step forward. I felt heavy in the light airiness as the world gave way.

I was on my hands and knees crying from the fall I took attempting to take my first step. Arms were around me, comforting me, stroking my head, lifting me up and onto the shoulders that smelled wonderfully like home. Soon, I was walking on my own, running. The noons that brought Dad home for lunch. Of Tarzan and afternoon naps.


Hello, Saturday night.

I can feel your glitzy lights and reverberating beats beckoning but what I want most now is to die. To be enveloped in silence. No laughter. No tears. Only nothingness.


There used to be a girl my age who lived across the street from me back in the house where I grew up. I called her 99. I never could make out what was on her mind even though we spent everyday together for 15 long years. We used to race each other, running bare-footed on the tar road. She would always let me win. I knew that little fact only years later as I look back to those childhood days. I never knew the reason why. Being with her was like going on a roller-coaster – scary and exciting at the same time.

  • My name is Cindy and I live in the tropical island of Penang, Malaysia. This is my respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
    No drama. No politics. Just soul.
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