Lim Anuar – A Portrait of Resolve
Writer: Cecilia Tan
Regardless of the level of functioning, there are some talented artists that are just waiting for an opportunity to express their creative side. Lim Anuar paints not by dictation but following his own artistic impulse. He likes to mix colours, he likes working on the canvas and uses all different shapes.
On 21st May 1969, a beautiful life was born. With joy and laughter, family Lim welcomed the birth of Lim Anuar. Their joy turned into tears and sorrows when they discovered that Lim Anuar was actually born deaf. Lim’s beloved mother was extremely worried about his disabilities and ran around to look for a special school for him. His mother finally discovered the Federation School for Deaf and immediately sent him there for training at the age of 3. Time flew and Lim soon turned 15. His interest in art was not developed during his school life but he remembered in an occasion he saw his friend’s dragon painting which really inspired him because he felt that he could do better than his friend and he started with Kung Fu comic drawings. Never in his mind would he expect to be an artist or involved in any art-related career.
Lim claimed he wasn’t a born artist, but he was a hard-working artist that went through many trials and failures; all these had spurred his interest in art and his skills had gradually developed and improved. After schooling in Federation School for Deaf, Lim came back to Kuala Lumpur to look for a job for survival. He took up 14 different jobs before embarking on an art career. It was only during the 1990s that Lim met Datin Khairiah Khairuddin, the owner of Batik Sayang in Petaling Jaya, Selangor who offered him to work in her batik factory. Lim accepted the offer and started to work on a part-time basis after his daily full-time job in a photocopy shop. Under Datin’s guidance, Lim started to design some batik souvenirs and surprisingly his designs impressed Datin so much that she saw great potential in him and subsequently offered him to work full-time in Batik Sayang. Without second thoughts, Lim quit his full-time job and joined Batik Sayang as a full-timer and found where his heart belonged – he started to discover great potentials of batik in the market.
Lim started learning the theory of batik, the art of design, canting skills and the production of a good piece of batik. When it came to giving Lim opportunities, Datin was never stingy and always encouraged him to make it on his own and even bought necessary batik tools and materials for him. The biggest project that Lim had accomplished was to design batik T-shirts for Malaysian Airlines. Lim spent about two years mastering batik techniques and every day after finishing work in Batik Sayang, he would do batik painting in his own house. There were times when his friends who visited him were very impressed with his batik paintings and started buying from him. Through that, he had earned a substantial income as compared to what he was getting in Batik Sayang. With that achievement and encouragement by Datin, Lim quit his job in Batik Sayang and started to develop his own career as a batik artist.
In the year 1993, Very Special Arts (VSA), organized by International Arts and Culture Festival in Brussel, Belgium invited Lim to participate in that exhibition. The exhibition acted as an eye opener for Lim as he witnessed the talented disabled people doing art, painting, performing music and dancing. It was so encouraging that he continued to increase and improve the production of batik paintings in his house after the great experience in Belgium. Slowly he started to receive invitations to participate in exhibitions, bazaar sales, craft sales and also many competitions in which he had won many. It is worth mentioning that Bank Negara used to buy a huge painting entitled Kampong (Malaysian Villages) from him and also a Spaniard ordered 6000 pieces of butterfly batik designs from him. Lim was proud that in Malaysia, among the disabled artists, he always stood out and won the first price for all competitions he had ever participated. In 1995, Lim won the third medal of International Abilympics Competition in Perth. With huge confidence, he started to apply for business license in 1999 and set up his very first shop at Central Market, KL and a kiosk in The Mall shopping center. Unfortunately, due to the lack of experience in doing business, these two shops were closed down soon after 6 months as there were both running at a loss. Lim was very discouraged and disappointed; he started to look for other jobs. He worked as an architectural designer cum illustrator in a few interior designing and architecture firms. As usual, after normal working hours he continued painting at home. In 2003, once again he won the first price in batik painting from National Abilympics Competition in Kuala Lumpur and in the same year, he represented Malaysia to participate in the International Abilympics Competition in New Delhi and won the third medal.
In 2005, Lim decided to join Lim Kok Wing University to obtain a formal qualification to enable him to seek working opportunities overseas. When Lim showed his paintings to apply for a scholarship, the management of Lim Kok Wing University was amazed at his work and concluded that he didn’t need to study anymore because he was already a professor in art. The university offered him to be a resident artist and represent Lim Kok Wing Univerisity with a team of four to participate in a batik painting competition, Piala Sri Iman in Terrengganu in which they won first prize. He was so proud of himself because he was the only deaf participant and winning the first prize proved that he had nothing less than a normal artist. After 2 years, Lim was promoted to Art Director of Lim Kok Wing University. Until today, he remains grateful towards Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing who made him the Art Director and enabled him to enjoy the status, success and popularity just like people without disabilities.
In 2007, Lim was qualified for the International Abilympics Competition Tokyo and he secured his third medal once again. While he was enjoying his success, he came across Emilia Tan, the Managing Director of TMS ART Gallery and the Publisher of myBatik Magazine through magazines. Lim took the courage to contact Emilia and proposed to her that he wanted to exhibit his paintings at TMS ART Gallery. Without feeling nervous and he met up with her and surprisingly, Emilia agreed to exhibit his paintings. He now feels like a real artist after seeing his batik paintings being framed up and beautifully displayed in the gallery.
Lim Anuar ended his success story by saying, “Yes, I was unfortunate because I was born deaf but life is fair to me as I am fortunate enough to meet many generous and helpful people. He urges the public to see the abilities and potentials of disabled people. Please give us a chance to have a breakthrough in our lives because giving an opportunity to a deaf person is like allowing us to be heard.”