Where Sculptured Glass Leaves Thrive
on the windy but scenic Teluk Bahang main road, along the halfway point to
Balik Pulau, sits Art & Garden by Fuan Wong. The one and a half
hectare-large land mainly comprises of durian trees and half a hectare is where
Fuan’s sculptured glass leaves thrive. Imperious, statuesque with lovely
pointed tips glinting in the sun, these leaves are punctuations among richly
hued leafy plants such as bromeliads.
It has taken Fuan three and a half years to cultivate this garden that fuses
works of art and natural plants, a space where his large pieces of glass
sculptures inspired by the graceful bends and folds of leaves can show off
their imposing beauty and thrive in their full glory. It’s also where his
collection of bromeliads thrive, allowing the leafy glass sculptures a lush
background which he opened to the public around August 2015.
Just months into its opening, Fuan’s sculptures have already garnered plenty of
attention for commissions for his magnificent sculptures. This is because, when
it was impossible to imagine how these large glass pieces can fit into an alien
or natural environment, it is now possible to see their significant
contribution in amplifying an ambience.
on his Art & Garden
the idea behind Art & Garden?
a plant collector, I had propagated them to a point where I had to either get
rid of them or sell them or something. So, using them to dress up my family’s
rather plain durian farm seemed like a good idea. Also, I had gotten to the
stage in my glass (sculpting) career when I wanted to experiment with big work
for the outdoors.
What sort of art governs Art & Garden's style or concept?
Eclectic. And contributed by various artists.
What are the main plants you've grown at Art & Garden?
Mainly Bromeliads because they are a passion of mine. There are also some
specialised ferns like Staghorns as well as species orchids and other funky
stuff, for example, there are various species of plants that live symbiotically
with ants, called myrmecophytes and they come from various families of plants –
I grow two species found in our jungles. I also like airplants, Tillandsia, and
they are bromeliads too. Some Tree aloes that are related to aloe vera but will
grow into trees if conditions are right and sarracenias, which are pitcher
plants from North America.
do you hope a visitor will derive from the Art & Garden experience?
think it is actually quite beautiful, so there is the visual impact. But a more
important factor is engendering interest in art and plants in otherwise
indifferent people. And it really pleases me when it gives a kick in the pants
of other gardeners. There’s been a lot of feedback from people who feel
inspired and energised to go back and do things to their own (garden) patch.
Who would appreciate Art & Garden?
It’s a wide spectrum. Mostly people who enjoy beauty and like plants but we
have had hardened urbanites who like it.
Besides absorbing the art, flora and fauna, what else can a visitor expect
at Art & Garden?
I am sometimes there and will hold a tour if the visitors are interested.
That can be a plus (I think)! So far, everyone is mostly left to wander about
but the artwork is captioned, the interesting plants are labelled and there are
explanatory notes for the more important stuff. For example, we have two
Staghorns named after Ridley and Holtum – both gentlemen were involved in
Penang Botanic Gardens, one was instrumental in kick-starting the rubber industry
and the other pioneered methods of orchid cultivation which revolutionised the
then nascent industry. I don't think however that the general public would know
about this, which is a pity.
do and absorb
a place that will incite a small kind of wonder, perhaps even inspire you to
open up a sketch book to immortalise the intermingling of the manifestation of
human creativity with nature or the garden’s many nooks and corners that burst
with colours, art and plants. Other than that, it’s also an open air art
gallery showcasing sculptures, artwork and photographs of various artists such
as Howard Tan, Tom Powell, Phillip Hemnell, Khor Guan Kheng, Ch'ng Kiah Kien,
Jonathon Yun, Nizam Abdullah, Nina Rupena and the like. There are hardy,
beautiful wooden benches for you to sit and contemplate the environment and the
garden’s inhabitants, if not life itself.
For a reprieve from the warmth of the outdoors, you can browse in the bright,
spacious gift shop offering unique goods such as sculptured jewellery by
Jonathan Yun, woven mengkuang
bags, handmade soaps and Fuan’s
own glass sculptured creations. Although it is a garden, and even though most
gardens are friendly to children, this place is somewhat more sophisticated and
require some decorum for children to appreciate its beauty and open spaces.
To get there
The Rapid Penang bus
#501 that travels the Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang route is a possible transport
to the garden and by car. It’s also possible to hire a taxi for half a day or a
couple of hours to take you there and back again to your start point. It’s
recommended to spend at least a couple of hours strolling, sitting and
breathing the air lightly perfumed by foliage at the garden.
By car: From Batu Ferringhi, whose road fades into Teluk Bahang road, keep
going till you hit the Teluk Bahang roundabout and then turn left right up to
the dam and toward Balik Pulau. Once you’ve passed the Tropical Fruit Farm, Art
& Garden is less than a kilometer on your right.
By car: From Balik Pulau town, follow exit signs indicating Batu Ferringhi and
a little after the halfway point to Teluk Bahang town, keep an eye out on the
left for Art & Garden. If you see Tropical Fruit Farm, then do backtrack
for around 800 metres and you’ll find Art & Garden.
Art & Garden is open from 9am to 6pm and is closed on Tuesdays. They
supply spritzes of citronella insect repellent to stave off the niggly little
insects at the entrance. There’s water available at the gift shop. Wearing
cotton pants and long sleeves may help against sunburn and light insect bites
while a wide brim hat helps keep your face shaded. Slathering on some sunblock
is a good idea to prevent sunburn. Fees are RM30 per adult and 20 per cent off
for MyKad holders. Get onto their Facebook or
call 013 – 533 1232 for clearer directions or other details.