Research: Brunei 01

Bandar Seri Begawan

2015.02.05 - 02.06

The second research trip started with Brunei, a new country for all members for this trip. Bountiful in both oil and natural gas, Brunei’s GDP per-capita is the second highest among the ASEAN countries, and Japan has been one of the main trading partners by importing those natural resources. The curators met several artists who have participated in international art festivals in foreign countries with the generous help of Mr. Zefri Ariff, a writer/lecturer at University Brunei Darussalam.
After spending only thirty hours in Brunei, the curators headed to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, via Brunei airlines while listening to the prayers that were chanted as airplanes landed.

  • Haruko Kumakura
  • Mami Kataoka
  • Naoki Yoneda

Rain Forest Gallery


Haruko Kumakura

The Rain Forest Gallery was opened in 2014 by Dato Sofri, artist and former Bruneian ambassador to the United States, for the purpose of establishing a place where one can purchase works by Bruneian artists. Workshops are also conducted within the gallery, primarily on practical topics like painting and drawing. Most participants are students and number around thirty per workshop. Since there are not many art museums or galleries in Brunei and the market is still small, the Rain Forest Gallery aims to promote the growth of not only artists but of viewers as well.

Jameq Mosque

Haruko Kumakura

The Jameq Mosque was completed in 1994 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the enthronement of King Hassanal Bokiah, the 29th Sultan of Brunei. Surprisingly, the mosque’s construction was personally funded by the sultan himself. Its solid gold domes and blue-themed traditional Islamic mosaic tiles are extremely impressive to behold. This massive structure enables 5,000 people to pray together simultaneously and is apparently the largest place of worship in the country. Non-Muslim visitors are also allowed into the building at certain times of day.

Water Village and Culture Gallery


Haruko Kumakura

The Water Village and Culture Gallery in Kampong Ayer on the Brunei River exhibits handicrafts like woodwork, bamboo work, and textiles. Such exhibits are accompanied by informational panels on Brunei’s history and especially on aquatic lifestyles and culture. Over 30,000 people live in Kampong Ayer (water village) today, along with facilities including schools, hospitals, mosques, shops, and gasoline stands. Historically, too, this was an extremely important location as trade centered here did much to support the country’s development.

Kaleidoscope Studio


Haruko Kumakura

Kaleidoscope Studio is a gallery founded by artist Lisa Ahmad in 2014. Vigorously active in a variety of activities, the studio offers art exhibitions for young artists and events featuring invited musicians. The studio also plans and administers charity auctions and the like. After studying abroad in the UK, Ahmad worked and lived in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur. She returned to Brunei in 2013, and she decided to open the gallery upon considering what she could do for the Bruneian art world. Her experience and international network are likely to have a great impact on the young generation of Brunei.

REGALBLUE Production


Haruko Kumakura

REGALBLUE Production is a visual media production company. Its 2013 film What's So Special About Rina received the "Special Jury Award" at the ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards. This was actually the first feature film produced in Brunei in forty-five years (since 1968). Moreover, the film released at that time was supposedly an educational film created by the Ministry of Religious Affairs or a similar organization. On the other hand, What's So Special About Rina is a film about modern themes and featuring local actors, and its release was the first time Bruneians saw their daily speech used in a movie.

Special Thanks

Dato Sofri
Faizal Hamdan
Harlif Hj Mohamad
Hj Mahaddi Hj Mat Zain
Lisa Ahmad
Malai Yunus bin Malai Yusof
Nurain Peeraya
Osman Mohammad

Pg Khamarul Zaman Pg Hj Tajuddin
Pg Timbang Pg Hj Tuah
Putra Seri Group
Umi Zaty Bazillah Zakaria
Zakaaria bin Omar
Zefri Ariff