The gift shop across the corridor from KL’s Ilham Gallery features a carefully curated selection of products, ranging from art prints, handicrafts, woven bags, seeds, card games, jewellery, postcards and art books.
Most of the items here are proudly made in Malaysia – but wait, before you start baulking at this all too familiar phrase, Ilham Gallery gift shop manager Wong Ee Ling will be quick to assure you that “buatan Malaysia” here goes beyond the familiar tourist images and tacky souvenirs we have come to associate it with.
“Our core value at this gift shop is entrenched in supporting local craftsmen, designers and artists. We source for items that are made in Malaysia and have a Malaysian identity, but they are also practical, useful and evergreen. When we say Malaysian, we always bear in mind that it is so much more than souvenirs with the Twin Towers and the hibiscus on them,” says Wong.
The gallery gift shop, situated on the 5th floor of the Ilham Tower, is a perfect stopover after visting Ilham’s exhibitions.
The Gerak Rupa Ubur Penyataan (Grup) 1957-1973 is on show now at the gallery. If you need exhibition catalogues and reference books, this is the right place, with material from Ilham’s first show Picturing The Nation, built around a core selection of Datuk Hoessein Enas’s paintings and sketches, in 2015, readily available.
Indeed, you will be spoiled for choice at the gift shop, which opened in August, with items from Bingka, Chin’s Women Organisation, Eats, Shoots and Roots, Fern The New Batik, Helping Hands Penan, Medea Treasures, Pangrok Sulap, Raksasa Prints, Senijari, Taoyi, Tiny Pinc and Tumbleknots among the individuals, collectives and non-governmental organisations having a presence here.
Sabah art collective Pangrok Sulap, hailing from Ranau, is represented by its socially aware woodcut prints, while KL-based creative brand Loka Made is recognisable through its pop-up architecture books.
On the limited edition front, KL-based photography workshop Studio 25 is bound to appeal to the art and cycling community, with its colour proofs and poster maps from the Cycling KL Bicycle Map project.
“We are always on the lookout for talented people from all over the country, we want to share their stories with the public. Knowing the craftsman’s story will give you a different perspective of their work,” adds Wong.
At this gift shop, there is a cosy corner of sorts, where you can kick back and relax with a cup of coffee and biscuits after touring the gallery opposite. Cakes baked by the disabled with social enterprise project Bake With Dignity are also sold at his cafe-esque set up.
Workshops are held regularly: among the events for next month are a handmade concrete decor workshop by Bentuk-Bentuk and a Grow Your Mini Herb Garden workshop by Eats, Shoots & Roots.
All profits from the gift shop play a vital part in supporting Ilham’s public and educational programmes.
Ilham Gallery gift shop is located on Level 5, Ilham Tower in Kuala Lumpur. Opening hours: 10.30am-7pm (Tuesday-Saturday) and 10.30am-5pm (Sunday). Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Call 03-2181 5128 for more information.