A regular judge of the Piala Seri Endon since its inception a decade ago – batik artist designer, shibori artist and now trekker extraordinaire mainly in the jungles of Kuala Kubu Bahru and Chilling waterfalls shares with us his life as such. A trained trekker and batik artist, Eddie, who resides in Kuala Kubu Bahru, is very much in touch with Mother Nature and translating that beauty into creative batik pieces.
1/A little history…..
Eddie Yap studied and completed his Surface Design course in 3 years of a 4 years full time course in Bradford College of Art & Design,Yorkshire, specializing in printed textiles in September 1972. He then furthered his studies at the Royal College of Art, London to do the Masters of Art (MARCA) in Printed Surface Textiles & Knitwear. 1972- 1974
Eddie Yap’s illustrious career as a textile craftsman started when he worked at the studio of Deryck Healey’s International,London circa 1974-1979. He also worked at some of the leading brands of the seventies decade at houses like Joseph, Matchclub, Howie, Liberty’s in London producing limited edition rayon scarves. He then ventured into the USA market to supply his rayon scarves to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor as well as Neiman Marcus of USA. Eddie then went on to design Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter knitwear collections for the likes of Banff Ltd. New York and CheGo Int. New York and also did some free-lance print and knitwear collections for Carolynn Brunn and Jean Muir,London.
Eddie did his first group group exhibition of textile designers at TEX Print 1 @ the Design Center,London in 1974. And in 1988-1990 he showed his batik ready-to-wear spring/summer and autumn/ winter collections @ Chelsea Craft Fair. His first batik ready to wear collection, was shown at the 1992 Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami,Florida,USA. In 1989, he presented paper on Batik @ Printex Exhibition & Show @ the University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki, Finland. Eddie is also an External Textile Assessor for ITM Malaysia’s Textiles/Fashion Assessment form 1980 to 1990.
2/ What inspires me as an artist and as a guide in M’sian jungle…….
I guess its my early childhood with my father. I remember when I was 9 or 10 years old, my dad would take me into the rainforest jungle. He was a teacher in Clifford Secondary School, Kuala Kangsar,Perak. He was also a PVR (Police Volunteer Reserve) Inspector. He was a pretty good marksman who handled a pistol and the .22 rifle as well as the shortgun. He used to shoot squirrels, flying foxes….of course, in those days, no one talks about about “killing” wildlife….Nowadays that’s another story! And the Penghulu (village headman) would give us lovely fruits like durians that in exchange of for the hunt. There will also be a big feast to honour the hunting party (we would be served Malay food like rendang, curries, kueh-kueh and more,) their way of rewarding the hunters for “getting rid” of the animals that destroy their fruits.
I love to immerse myself in the lush greenery of the jungle, multi layers of forest foliage, textures of dried leaves, fauna and flora as well as seeing some of the denizen (lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, mammals, insects).
Mother Nature is my prime inspiration.
As an artist…all sorts of things inspire me…from seeing someone wearing something funky, individualistic, can be wildlife, undersea, an art exhibition, almost anything.
3/ How do I juggle both roles…
There are days when I have no guide assignments, so I do some design work/batik. I sometimes do stitched shibori while watching a movie/talk
My batik pieces are mainly one of a kind (I dislike doing repeat works) Designs can be geometric, floral, textures, splashes, stripes..all sorts. I use all types of natural fibers…cotton,viscose rayon,silk,linen,wool. Batik are done from 1 meter to 6 meter lengths. I also produce a range of batik and shibori scarves and shawls.
4/ How did I get started…
A few years ago, a French & Italian couple (Anna & Larry of Flying Rhino in Kuala Kubu Bharu) were planning to operate a boutique eco-friendly hotel for outdoor nature people and invited me to be their guide. At that time, an Australian journalist was gathering information on where to eat, stay and places of interests in Malaysia. As it happened, Lady Luck was on my side and I got to meet him. He took down my name, email contact and mobile phone contact as well as nature guide details. Months later, I found out that my name had been listed in the 11th edition of Lonely Planet,Malaysia Edition.
A good friend, Keong of Outdoor Gear Malaysia (OGM)
has a website OffDcouch.com
(Keong and I trained together as nature guides) and it gives information on outdoor adventures like jungle and waterfall trekking. Several nature guides including myself are listed on that website. I also get referrals from Amos Ho of OpenSkyUnlimited and Happy Yen of Kuala Lumpur.
My wholesome jungle rainforest experience for foreign tourists involves letting them know the importance of Man co-existing with Nature, fauna & flora. Nature is such a great balancing force and that Mankind has to stop deforestation and devastating the environment. There’s always a short briefing about the flow of the trek where I emphasize the most important feature and that is Safety, Safety and Safety. I will inform them of local fruits, veggies, foods, customs and the orang asli way of life (native culture). As we head to the starting point of the trek, I always make sure to inform them of the do’s and don’t’s of jungle trekking.
5/ What’s changed for me in with the way your career is evolving now…
Since doing the jungle trekking assignments, I have become a physically fitter person. I also choose to take more greens and fruits and eat less meat.
As a nature guide, it reminds me that I need to be in fine healthy form so that my overseas guests can be confident of my capability as their guide.
The rewarding part is that at the end of the trekking event, the guests are happy and have got valuable information about our rain forest and hopefully, they have a much higher appreciation of Nature.
6/ What’s next for me…
Starting in late September 2014, I will be taking a group of French nationals from the AFM (Alliance Francaise Malaysia) on regular jungle walks every fortnightly. Since the walks are within an hour’s drive out of KL and are about 2.5 to 3 hours each time, they they prefer the jungle than being in the gym!
The Peak magazine is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and I’ve been fortunate to be selected as one of 25 artists to show at an exhibition cum silent auction to be held at the Galeri Petronas on 2nd October 2014.
I will also be on the panel of judges for the Piala Seri Endon
, judging the Soft Furnishing Section in November 2014. There are other judges doing the
Handicraft and Fashion Sections.
7/ Books at my bedside table…….
1. Eternal Echoes/Exploring Our Hunger To Belong by John O’Donohue
2. To be Human by J.Krishnamurthi
3. Batik and Shibori journals
4. Nature and rainforest journals
8/ Last but not least….
Go out and enjoy Nature (it refreshes and re-news our notion of life because nature is all healing and inspirational. You also get to trek/walk/exercise
and it keeps you FIT.
Eddie Yap is contactable at 0122132678 and firstname.lastname@example.org